DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Army News Service, Feb. 11, 2008) -- Mark Martin finished eighth in the Budweiser Shootout, Feb. 9, after picking up four positions in the final three laps. It was Martin's 20th consecutive start and 21st overall in the all-star event, which also marked his debut with the No. 8 on his U.S. Army Chevrolet.

"We had a really good horse out there tonight," Martin said. "We had a lot of power with the Earnhardt/Childress engine package and were able to do some things on the track. I wouldn't be nervous at all if we were using this car in the Daytona 500 next week. The U.S. Army Chevy we have for next week is a little stronger than this one. Hopefully we can come out and go after that Daytona 500 win for our Soldiers."

Martin, who started the 70-lap race at Daytona International Speedway from outside of the front row, flexed his muscle early by moving into the lead on Lap 4. He was eventually shuffled back through the field, but patiently positioned himself inside the top 10.

Martin moved into the top five with 10 laps to go, but lost his position when Denny Hamlin was able to get on the outside and pass him. Martin dropped as far back as 12th before picking up steam in the closing laps.

It was Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard/Mountain Dew AMP Chevrolet, who won the Budweiser Shootout.

During a practice run for the event, Feb. 8, Martin's No. 8 U.S. Army Chevrolet sustained slight damage in a multi-car accident at the speedway. The accident occurred in front of Martin, with his Chevrolet being tapped from the side in the ensuing melee.

"We dodged a big one there," said Martin. "I could see the wrecking in front of me and I thought I was going to be able to come through completely clear. However, someone came up and got into me, as they were trying to avoid the same wreck."

Martin also posted the 18th fastest speed in the Daytona 500 time trials, Feb. 10, covering the 2.5-mile tri-oval in 48.536 seconds at 185.429 miles per hour.

"That was a solid run," said Martin. "I feel confident about what we have moving into Thursday's race and then the Daytona 500."

The qualifying competition locked in only the front row for the Daytona 500 and set the fields for the two 150-mile twin qualifying races, Feb. 14. Martin will start 12th in the second of those races. The results of the two races will set the official starting lineup for the 500.

The Sprint Cup teams will return to the Speedway for a practice session on Feb. 13.

The twin races, Feb. 14, will be televised on SPEED, with the first race beginning at 2 p.m. ET.