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Martin blisters Atlanta to beat Busch for pole

by Pete McCole
Friday, March 06, 2009

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Mark Martin accepts pole award trophy
Rhonda McCole/AR1.com

Some may call Mark Martin an old dog, but he still knows his old tricks.

Leaving no doubt that he can still wheel a racecar around the track, the wily 27-year NASCAR Sprint Cup veteran ripped off a lap of 187.045 mph to notch his first Sprint Cup pole since 2001, topping the leaderboard in Friday night’s qualifying session for Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Kurt Busch was second fastest, followed by Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya and Greg Biffle.

It was Martin’s 42nd career pole and his second at Atlanta Motor Speedway, his last one coming all the way back in March of 1992.

Having to back off the throttle in turn four during his qualifying run, Martin was convinced he had blown his shot at the pole and watched nervously as the remaining qualifiers took their turns on the track.

“I will tell you what, I am still shaking, I feel like a rookie to be real honest with you,” said Martin. “That is really, really, really cool. In the No. 8 car last year, those guys gave me six outside poles so it is pretty cool for Alan (Gustafson, crew chief)  CARQUEST and Kellogg's and this entire bunch, especially after all we have gone through the first three races. The car has been fast.”

“You know I did run out of talent on that lap. At least we made it to the line sooner than anybody else so I am really proud for this team.”

Martin’s last pole position was in May of 2001 at Richmond, a span of 208 races.

“I was nervous and sick at my stomach about the whole thing just to be honest with you,” said Martin. “This is a real special group and I am just so happy for them. We need to go win us a race but this will give us a good starting spot.”

After spending much of 2008 on the sidelines running a partial schedule, Martin came back for one last full season running for Hendrick Motorsports in the famed no. 5 Chevrolet, looking for one more shot at the Sprint Cup title that has eluded him for so long.

Following two weeks of disappointing finishes at California and Las Vegas, Martin hopes to put his bid for his first career Sprint Cup title back on track with a victory on Sunday.

Martin got a big vote of confidence from former champion David Pearson, who earlier today said he’d like to see Martin win a championship, because he’s “a good boy.”

“I like the way he said that. That really means a lot to me,” said Martin. “It is definitely important to me to see people like David Pearson, to keep all of us in check, and to understand where the sport came from and that it will continue to move forward and evolve.

“I was one of the fortunate ones that got a chance to race with him. That means a lot. He was one of the men in the sport.”

Denny Hamlin secured the sixth starting spot, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Joe Nemechek, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick.

Todd Bodine, Scott Riggs, Geoff Bodine and Jeremy Mayfield failed to make the field.

Results

Pos Car Driver Team Time Speed -Fastest -Next
1 5 Mark Martin Kellogg's/CARQUEST Chevrolet 29.640 187.045 0.000 0.000
2 2 Kurt Busch Miller Lite Dodge 29.748 186.365 0.108 0.108
3 26 Jamie McMurray IRWIN Industrial Tools Ford 29.757 186.309 0.117 0.009
4 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet 29.773 186.209 0.133 0.016
5 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford 29.777 186.184 0.137 0.004
6 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Ground Toyota 29.780 186.165 0.140 0.003
7 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet 29.798 186.053 0.158 0.018
8* 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota 29.819 185.922 0.179 0.021
9 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota 29.824 185.891 0.184 0.005
10 29 Kevin Harvick Reese's Chevrolet 29.833 185.834 0.193 0.009
11* 14 Tony Stewart Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet 29.848 185.741 0.208 0.015
12 39 Ryan Newman Haas Automation Chevrolet 29.874 185.579 0.234 0.026
13 9 Kasey Kahne Budweiser Dodge 29.898 185.430 0.258 0.024
14 19 Elliott Sadler Best Buy Dodge 29.913 185.337 0.273 0.015
15 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet 29.922 185.282 0.282 0.009
16 24 Jeff Gordon DuPont/National Guard Youth 29.924 185.269 0.284 0.002
17 83 Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota 29.976 184.948 0.336 0.052
18 00 David Reutimann Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota 29.989 184.868 0.349 0.013
19 7 Robby Gordon Jim Beam Toyota 30.023 184.658 0.383 0.034
20 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet 30.049 184.499 0.409 0.026
21 33 Clint Bowyer BB&T Chevrolet 30.049 184.499 0.409 0.000
22* 28 Travis Kvapil Golden Corral Ford 30.088 184.260 0.448 0.039
23 1 Martin Truex Jr. Bass Pro Shop/Tracker Boats 30.113 184.107 0.473 0.025
24 55 Michael Waltrip NAPA Auto Parts Toyota 30.129 184.009 0.489 0.016
25 07 Casey Mears DirecTV Chevrolet 30.130 184.003 0.490 0.001
26 82 Scott Speed # Red Bull Toyota 30.134 183.978 0.494 0.004
27* 66 Dave Blaney Prism Motorsports Toyota 30.139 183.948 0.499 0.005
28 12 David Stremme Penske Dodge 30.143 183.923 0.503 0.004
29 99 Carl Edwards Aflac Ford 30.150 183.881 0.510 0.007
30 17 Matt Kenseth DeWalt Ford 30.164 183.795 0.524 0.014
31* 71 David Gilliland TRG Motorsports Chevrolet 30.169 183.765 0.529 0.005
32 43 Reed Sorenson Super 8 Dodge 30.171 183.753 0.531 0.002
33 98 Paul Menard Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Ford 30.248 183.285 0.608 0.077
34 47 Marcos Ambrose Kingsford/Clorox/Little Debbie Toyota 30.250 183.273 0.610 0.002
35* 21 Bill Elliott Motorcraft Ford 30.251 183.267 0.611 0.001
36 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Mobil 1 Dodge 30.254 183.248 0.614 0.003
37 8 Aric Almirola Cub Cadet Chevrolet 30.306 182.934 0.666 0.052
38* 44 A J Allmendinger Charter Dodge 30.308 182.922 0.668 0.002
39 6 David Ragan UPS Ford 30.319 182.856 0.679 0.011
40 96 Bobby Labonte Ask.com Ford 30.331 182.783 0.691 0.012
41* 09 Mike Bliss Chevrolet 30.354 182.645 0.714 0.023
42 34 John Andretti WindowWorld.com Chevrolet 30.358 182.621 0.718 0.004
43* 35 Todd Bodine Toyota 30.443 182.111 0.803 0.085
44OP 20 Joey Logano # The Home Depot Toyota 30.472 181.938 0.832 0.029
45* 36 Scott Riggs Red Bank Outfitters Toyota 30.584 181.271 0.944 0.112
46* 41 Jeremy Mayfield All Sport Body Quencher Toyota 30.811 179.936 1.171 0.227
47* 64 Geoff Bodine Toyota 31.018 178.735 1.378 0.207

*Required to qualify on time, OP - Top 35 in Owner Points, PC - Past Champion

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