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Truex surprises with pole in Phoenix

NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying
Friday, November 13, 2009

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Martin Truex, Jr.
Martin Truex Jr. came from nowhere in practice to win the pole in Friday's qualifying session for the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Truex knocked Sprint Cup points leader Jimmie Johnson from the provisional pole for Sunday's race with a lap at 135.120 mph. Kurt Busch, who went out 33rd, claimed the second spot at 134.579 mph, with Johnson (134.454 mph) holding the third starting position.

Unlike most other drivers who were faster on the second of two laps, Truex grabbed the top spot by turning his first lap in 26.643 seconds. And in doing so, he knocked nearly a half-second off his practice time after air-pressure adjustments gave him a big boost in speed.

"I felt good about the car in the two runs we made in practice, but after we made the first run, it was OK, and we adjusted on it and went the wrong way," said Truex, who won his third pole of the season and the fourth of his Cup career. "We knew we could go faster. This is a place that normally you pick up in qualifying from what you do in practice, so I felt good going in.

"We were 20th in practice, but it was like a tenth [of a second] from first to where we were at, so it doesn't take a whole lot. We just made the right adjustments, and the lap felt great. I think we qualified second here [before], and it was the same way [that] time [2007] -- I think our first lap was quicker -- and I'm not sure why that is with us."

Kasey Kahne (134.293 mph) qualified fourth, and Denny Hamlin was fifth at 134.228 mph. Mark Martin, who trails Johnson by 73 points with two races left in the Chase, will start 10th. Jeff Gordon, third in points and 112 behind Johnson, earned the 14th starting position.

Johnson qualified 12th last week at Texas and was wiped out in a crash on Lap 3. Johnson said he hopes starting closer to the front at Phoenix will help keep him out of harm's way.

Regan Smith, Kevin Conway and Brandon Ash failed to qualify for the 43-car field. Conway was attempting to make his Cup debut at Phoenix.

Results

POS CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR SPEED TIME BEHIND
1 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Rain-X 135.120 26.643 Leader
2 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 134.579 26.750 -0.107
3 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 134.454 26.775 -0.132
4 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 134.293 26.807 -0.164
5 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Ground 134.228 26.820 -0.177
6 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 134.223 26.821 -0.178
7 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Pedigree 134.173 26.831 -0.188
8 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Old Spice / Office Depot 134.078 26.850 -0.207
9 07 Casey Mears Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 134.028 26.860 -0.217
10 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet Kellogg's / Carquest 134.023 26.861 -0.218
11 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 133.949 26.876 -0.233
12 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 133.924 26.881 -0.238
13 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Cheerios / Hamburger Helper 133.879 26.890 -0.247
14 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 133.874 26.891 -0.248
15 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 133.864 26.893 -0.250
16 44 A.J. Allmendinger Ford Ford. Drive one. 133.759 26.914 -0.271
17 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 133.720 26.922 -0.279
18 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Amp Energy / National Guard 133.700 26.926 -0.283
19 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 133.680 26.930 -0.287
20 171 Bobby Labonte Chevrolet TRG Motorsports 133.571 26.952 -0.309
21 47 Marcos Ambrose Toyota Little Debbie / Kingsford / Clorox 133.551 26.956 -0.313
22 7 Robby Gordon Toyota Jim Beam 133.417 26.983 -0.340
23 113 Max Papis* Toyota GEICO 133.402 26.986 -0.343
24 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet U.S. Army 133.240 27.019 -0.376
25 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac 133.215 27.024 -0.381
26 12 Brad Keselowski Dodge Penske Racing 133.161 27.035 -0.392
27 20 Joey Logano* Toyota Home Depot 133.151 27.037 -0.394
28 17 Matt Kenseth Ford USG Sheetrock 133.121 27.043 -0.400
29 09 David Gilliland Chevrolet Miccosukee Resort & Gaming 133.087 27.050 -0.407
30 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Irwin Marathon Saw Blades 133.062 27.055 -0.412
31 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 132.930 27.082 -0.439
32 66 Dave Blaney Toyota Prism Motorsports 132.925 27.083 -0.440
33 6 David Ragan Ford UPS 132.812 27.106 -0.463
34 187 Joe Nemechek Toyota NEMCO Motorsports 132.783 27.112 -0.469
35 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Insignia 132.763 27.116 -0.473
36 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Cat Financial 132.650 27.139 -0.496
37 82 Scott Speed* Toyota Red Bull 132.333 27.204 -0.561
38 36 Michael McDowell Toyota Wave Energy Drink 132.275 27.216 -0.573
39 96 Erik Darnell Ford Valvoline 132.178 27.236 -0.593
40 43 Reed Sorenson+ Dodge Paralyzed Veterans of America 131.829 27.308 -0.665
41 98 Paul Menard+ Ford Johns Manville / Menards 131.377 27.402 -0.759
42 34 John Andretti+ Chevrolet Taco Bell 130.757 27.532 -0.889
43 37 Tony Raines Chevrolet Long John Silver's 132.091 27.254 -0.611
Did Not Qualify
44 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 132.062 27.260 -0.617
45 170 Kevin Conway Chevrolet Extenze 131.892 27.295 -0.652
46 102 Brandon Ash Dodge Efusjon Energy Club 130.662 27.552 -0.909

+ Set by Owner Points
* Denotes Rookie

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