Saturday, March 02, 2013

Martin Flies To Phoenix Pole

For the 56th time in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career, Mark Martin will lead the field to the green flag from the pole position in Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

The Batesville, AR, veteran recorded the fastest lap in qualifying Friday, turning the one-mile PIR oval at  138.074 mph in his Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota; his second consecutive March pole at Phoenix. His 56th career Sprint Cup pole moved him past Bill Elliott and into seventh on the all-time list. He now trails only Harry Gant on the list of oldest pole winners in NASCAR history.

"A lot of people say, 'Mark's on it,’” said crew chief Rodney Childers after the winning lap. “For 2013, Mark's on it, squared."

The 50-year old Martin gave credit to his crew, saying, “They took a good car and made a pole car out of it. It's all about trophies, and we got a small one today. There's a bigger one Sunday."

Kasey Kahne will start on the outside pole, followed by Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson, who overcame inspection-line issues that forced his Hendrick Motorsports/Lowes Chevrolet team to undergo inspection three different times before receiving a passing grade.  

“That is never fun, but luckily I’ve been through it before,” said Johnson. “I was able to get strapped in and get all my gear on before I got down to the end. I’m not even sure we were on the clock yet. It always gets your attention when you are standing there, it’s almost your turn and your car isn’t there.

“Everybody starts asking what is up, so glad there was nothing up and we got it all dialed in and just got down there a little late.”

Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon completed the Top-5 followed Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman. Daytona 500 pole winner Danica Patrick has struggled to find speed so far in Phoenix, and qualified 40th.
Only 43 cars attempted qualifying for Sunday’s 43-car starting field.
Photo: Ross D. Franklin/AP

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