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Originally published Sunday, February 24, 2013 at 5:17 PM

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Martin nearly gets 50 Cent to change name for day

Mark Martin made big bucks with 50 Cent by his side.

AP Sports Writer

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. —

Mark Martin made big bucks with 50 Cent by his side.

Martin has never been a fan of restrictor-plate racing, which often results in a large number 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.

"We told 50 Cent if we won the race, he would have to change his name to 55 Cent for one day," Martin said. "I was trying really hard to get that name change for one day."

Martin would have preferred his own name switch - to Daytona 500 winner. Instead, he settled for third place behind Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

"First of all, I feel extremely grateful for the opportunity," said the 54-year-old 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 beyond this season.

"I'm definitely not going to talk about 2014 yet," said Martin, who has a part-time deal with Michael Waltrip Racing.

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 admit 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."

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