Daytona International Speedway hasn't always been one of Mark Martin's favourite places but, with a second-place finish in the 2007 Daytona 500 - in a photo finish - and a second-place qualifying run Sunday afternoon, he's learning to like the place.
His growing affinity also has something to do with the prize he seeks here.
"It's trying to get your arms around the crown jewel,” Martin said Sunday, after claiming his front-row spot for next Sunday's 500 with a qualifying lap of 187.817mph, “When it started dwindling down to where you could count on one hand your shots at the Daytona 500, and then started going down to four, three and 'we don't know anymore'...
“What I really wanted to do was win the Daytona 500 and/or the Brickyard. We got close here and went up to the Brickyard and ran sixth with a broken transmission, so our mission was almost accomplished. Those are crown jewels -- put the focus on that, rather than worrying about points or anything else.
“This is the crown jewel of stock car racing … everything else I've done in my career would fit around this.”by Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service