Mark Martin says he feels the 2009 running of the Daytona 500 will provide him with his best chance of securing victory in the biggest event on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule.
Martin, who finished second to Kevin Harvick back in 2007, will make his debut for Hendrick Motorsports in the event and would become the second oldest driver ever to win the 500 if he were to celebrate his first run in the #5 Kellogg's/Carquest Chevrolet with a run to victory lane.
The 50-year-old has already taken part in five tests with his new team and said he was ready and raring to go in next weekend's big race.
"I feel more prepared for this season than I ever have before,” he said. “This team is really prepared, and they've been together for a long time, so there's nothing that I have to go and check up on, to ask about, to confirm. They have it all figured out. So, for the first time really, I only have to take care of myself. I've been able to really concentrate on working out. Eating healthy has always been important to me, so I've been paying a lot of attention to that - getting the team a little healthier, too! I can't imagine anybody being more ready for 2009 than I am.
"I have been waiting for this day for nearly eight months now. The season could've started up the day after Homestead, and that would have been fine with me. I've gotten to know these guys through some tests. And I've been to the shop and really have gotten to see how they work and what all goes into this race team, and it's just incredible. These guys are working so hard. I'm just ready to see something come out of it all and so are they. I'm just so excited. Getting into that car at Daytona can't come soon enough."
Having been involved in the closest finish in the history of the event during his run to second two years ago, Martin added that he was confident he now had the car underneath him to go one better as he seeks to add to his 35 career Sprint Cup wins.
"I came so close in 2007 and had a great car that year,” he said. “This year, I think I'll probably have the best car I've ever had for Daytona and probably the best opportunity to go out there and win it. I want to have a great race car, and I think that's important. But there will be about ten really good cars out there, and only one guy will have all the luck.
“I'd rather be lucky than good when it comes to the Daytona 500.”
Martin will be competing in his first season of full-time racing since 2006 during the coming year.