DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Army News Service, Feb. 6, 2007) - Mark Martin's appearance in this Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway will be his record-extending 19th consecutive start and 20th overall. The all-star event will also mark his debut for Ginn Racing in the No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet.

"It's going to definitely be a big day for us," said Martin. "We've raced in a lot of Shootouts and we won the deal in '99, but this year we'll be making our debut with Ginn Racing and our debut with the U.S. Army in the No. 01 Chevrolet. We'll be able to see what we have right off the bat. I'm excited about getting back on the track and kicking off Speedweeks and the season in the Shootout.

"The Budweiser Shootout is one of those events where points don't matter and second place means nothing, so you have everyone out there really going for it all and trying to get the win," Martin continued. "We were able to hang on and win it in '99 and we had a pretty strong run last season. This year it will be my first race with Ryan (Pemberton, crew chief) and the guys on the 01 team."

Martin's first Shootout - Feb. 7, 1982 - had historical significance for the long-running NASCAR all-star race. The Batesville, Ark., native became the first rookie to qualify for the event after winning his first Cup pole in only his third career start on July 11, 1981, at Nashville International Raceway. Martin would actually go on to capture two poles in 1981, despite running in only five races. He finished eighth in the 1982 Shootout (then called the Busch Clash) behind the wheel of the No. 02 Buick.

Martin has amassed 41 career poles - a large reason for his 19 Shootout starts. He'll start this year's Shootout via a former winner's provisional, a right he earned when he held off Ken Schrader to win the 1999 event.

After the 1982 Shootout, Martin did not compete in the event again until 1989, but the veteran driver has not missed the event since. In 19 starts in the Budweiser Shootout, Martin has an average finish of 7.58. He finished seventh in the event a year ago.

"I just can't wait to get on the track and get this season kicked off with the Shootout," added Martin. "I can't remember being this excited heading into a season in a long, long time. We really have a big challenge ahead of us and we just can't wait to get going on the race track and prove to everyone that we are for real and that we fully intend to run well and compete this season."

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