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Mark Martin wins Cup pole in Bristol

by Pete McCole
Friday, August 21, 2009

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Mark Martin
Mark Martin will have a front row seat when he makes his 1,000th-career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start on Saturday night after topping Friday’s qualifying session for the Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Showing he has no intention on slowing down in his bid to race his way into the Chase for the Sprint Cup, the wily 50-year-old veteran rattled off a top speed of 124.484 mph in the no. 5 Pop-Tarts Chevrolet to score his second straight Bristol pole and his fifth of the 2009 season.

“I feel like there's a 200 lb. gorilla off my back right now,” said Martin. “I have got a number of really nice laps qualifying this year. Not every lap can be like that and I was afraid that the law of averages was going to get me here and I was going to choke. And this is the one place where we don't need to be choking right now. We went out and instead of playing it conservative, we put it out there and got another good lap.

“I'm so relieved that it's over with. It's a big shot in the arm. It's huge.”

Greg Biffle posted a top speed of 124.307 mph in the no. 16 Ford to take the outside pole.

Toyota pilots Scott Speed and Dave Blaney qualified third and fourth, respectively - the highest qualifying effort among the 12 “go-or-go-home” drivers trying to make the field. Ford driver Matt Kenseth rounded out the top five starters.

By taking the green flag for Saturday night’s race, Martin will become just the third driver to record 1000 starts, joining Michael Waltrip and seven-time champion Richard Petty.

“I didn’t know it was coming until last weekend,” said Martin of the milestone. “It was just not something that was really on the radar screen. In some ways it’s an accomplishment but really to me it’s what you did in those 1000 starts that really matters. It’s not just the sheer number it’s what happened in those starts that makes it special.”

Martin comes into Saturday night’s race 12th in the points standings – the cutoff position to be eligible for the Chase to the Sprint Cup – despite leading the series in victories with four tallies.

A critical miscue in last Sunday’s race at Michigan relegated him to a 31st-place showing after running out a fuel in the final laps, a mistake Martin and his crew chief Alan Gustafson can ill afford to make as the regular season winds down with just three races to go.

“Alan and I made a pact on Tuesday afternoon that we were going to let our performance do its thing. And it that's not enough, then it's not enough,” said Martin. “We do have the performance. And we can't let the things that we can't control, the racing gods, the luck, we can't let that tear us apart. Let's go out here and do it; do what we do and do it. We can't change the outcome. And that's what we're doing.”

Denny Hamlin and Aric Almirola both spun during their qualifying attempts. Hamlin was able fall back on owner’s points to take the 41st spot on the grid, while Almirola’s speed was not quick enough, joining Mike Wallace, Mike Skinner and Max Papis among those failing to make the field.

Results

POS CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR SPEED TIME BEHIND
1 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet Pop-Tarts / Carquest 124.484 15.414 Leader
2 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 124.307 15.436 -0.022
3 82 Scott Speed* Toyota Red Bull 124.146 15.456 -0.042
4 66 Dave Blaney Toyota Prism Motorsports 123.969 15.478 -0.064
5 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Dewalt 123.897 15.487 -0.073
6 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Hamburger Helper 123.890 15.488 -0.074
7 07 Casey Mears Chevrolet Jack Daniel's / USO "Toast to the Troops" 123.754 15.505 -0.091
8 20 Joey Logano* Toyota The Home Depot 123.706 15.511 -0.097
9 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet U.S. Army 123.642 15.519 -0.105
10 43 Reed Sorenson Dodge Valvoline 123.610 15.523 -0.109
11 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 123.586 15.526 -0.112
12 171 David Gilliland Chevrolet TaxSlayer.com 123.586 15.526 -0.112
13 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 123.538 15.532 -0.118
14 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 123.451 15.543 -0.129
15 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 123.435 15.545 -0.131
16 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 123.340 15.557 -0.143
17 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Irwin Vise-Grip 123.245 15.569 -0.155
18 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 123.126 15.584 -0.170
19 44 A.J. Allmendinger Dodge Hunt Brothers Pizza 123.103 15.587 -0.173
20 96 Bobby Labonte Ford Ask.com 123.047 15.594 -0.180
21 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 122.984 15.602 -0.188
22 08 Terry Labonte Toyota Carter / Simo Racing 122.842 15.620 -0.206
23 6 David Ragan Ford UPS 122.787 15.627 -0.213
24 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 122.756 15.631 -0.217
25 47 Marcos Ambrose Toyota Clorox / Kingsford / Bush's Beans 122.670 15.642 -0.228
26 4 Scott Wimmer Chevrolet Alpha Natural Resources 122.646 15.645 -0.231
27 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Amp Energy Sugar Free / National Guard 122.584 15.653 -0.239
28 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 122.576 15.654 -0.240
29 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 122.537 15.659 -0.245
30 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Old Spice 122.521 15.661 -0.247
31 7 Robby Gordon Toyota Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas / The Rogue Joint 122.482 15.666 -0.252
32 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac 122.419 15.674 -0.260
33 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 122.411 15.675 -0.261
34 12 David Stremme Dodge Penske Racing 122.310 15.688 -0.274
35 37 Tony Raines Dodge Long John Silver's 122.217 15.700 -0.286
36 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 122.115 15.713 -0.299
37 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 122.108 15.714 -0.300
38 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 122.053 15.721 -0.307
39 98 Paul Menard Ford Peak / Menards 121.389 15.807 -0.393
40 34 John Andretti Chevrolet Taco Bell 121.243 15.826 -0.412
41 11 Denny Hamlin+ Toyota FedEx Ground 120.626 15.907 -0.493
42 19 Elliott Sadler+ Dodge Stanley Tools 119.948 15.997 -0.583
43 187 Joe Nemechek Toyota NEMCO Motorsports 121.566 15.784 -0.370
Did Not Qualify
44 36 Mike Skinner Toyota Guy Fieri Knuckle Sandwich 121.497 15.793 -0.379
45 113 Max Papis* Toyota GEICO 120.392 15.938 -0.524
46 64 Mike Wallace Toyota Fred's Hometown Discount Store 119.432 16.066 -0.652
47 09 Aric Almirola Dodge Miccosukee Resort & Gaming 118.694 16.166 -0.752

+ Set by Owner Points
* Denotes Rookie

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