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Martin close to renaming rap icon
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.
It's no secret in NASCAR Sprint Cup circles that 54-year-old Mark Martin is a fan of rap music.
So it should be no surprise that he took a moment to comment on rapper 50 Cent visiting Daytona International Speedway for Sunday's Daytona 500.
After finishing third, Martin joked about what would have happened had he managed to win the season-opening race for the first time in his career.
"We told 50 Cent if we won the race, he would have to change his game to 55 Cent for one day," said Martin, who drives the No. 55 Toyota. "I was trying really hard to get that name change for one day."
Martin has never been a fan of restrictor-plate racing, which often results in a large numbers of cars running side-by-side and in tight packs.
But this one ended considerably better than most of Martin's others. Maybe it had something to do with rapper 50 Cent being in the No. 55 team's pit before and during the Daytona 500.
''First of all, I feel extremely grateful for the opportunity,'' said Martin, who could be in his final season. ''There are a number of drivers that didn't get to have a shot at the Daytona 500, and I was at least close enough to have an outside shot. So I feel extremely lucky for that opportunity.''
50 Cent has more No. 1 hits than Martin does Daytona 500 victories: The driver is now 0 for 29 in ''The Great American Race'' and refused to commit to 2014.
''I'm definitely not going to talk about 2014 yet,'' Martin said.
Who knows how much 50 Cent will divulge about what went down Sunday. The entertainer and budding boxing promoter was caught trying to kiss FOX Sports' Erin Andrews on the lips on live television.
He ended up landing one on her left check and then followed her down the starting grid. Andrews appeared caught off guard.
''Hey I wanted to kiss her, so I did,'' 50 Cent later posted on his Twitter page.
Shortly after the failed attempt, which provided fodder for Internet sites everywhere, 50 Cent headed to Martin's pit box.
Martin then won $817,013 for his finish. Even 50 Cent would have to acknowledge that's some pretty nice pocket change. Martin is a noted rap fan. His Twitter bio says, ''Gucci Mane my favorite rapper.'' He tweeted a pre-race picture with rapper T.I.
It was his best showing in a Sprint Cup points race at Daytona since finishing a close second to Kevin Harvick in 2007.
''I've told you guys over and over again: I'm not bitter about the things I haven't accomplished,'' Martin said. ''I'm pretty damn proud of the things I have. That's how I feel about it.''
The Associated Press contributed to this report.