Friday, April 05, 2013

Jimmie Shatters Martinsville Track Record

To the surprise of virtually no one, Jimmie Johnson won the pole for Sunday’s STP Gas Booster 500 at Martinsville Speedway today, breaking the track record with a fast lap of 19.244 seconds, at a speed of 98.400 mph.

The seven-time Martinsville winner claimed his third career pole on the Virginia oval, then predictably gave the credit to his crew chief and team.

“I’m really proud of Chad (Knaus), the race car he brought and all the work and effort that went into this car today,” said Johnson. “The car was fast right off the truck and I was happy I did my part.”

Johnson’s lap easily eclipsed Tony Stewart’s track record of 98.083 mph, a mark that had stood since 2005. Richard Petty Motorsports driver Marcos Ambrose will start on the outside of the front row Sunday, after missing the pole position by a scant .007 seconds. Brian Vickers, Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon completed the top six qualifiers; all breaking Stewart’s previous track record. Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman rounded out the Top-10.

Stewart struggled in both practice and qualifying, and will start 26th Sunday. Teammate Ryan Newman, who won the spring race at Martinsville a year ago, qualified tenth. Championship leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start 17th, with Mark Martin, subbing for the injured Denny Hamlin at Joe Gibbs Racing, was 35th.

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