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Five-time MIS winner Mark Martin starts first

NASCAR Sprint Cup
Friday, August 17, 2012

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Mark Martin
Mark Martin knows that there are hundreds of variables in auto racing but he proved once again that age isn’t one of them Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.

Martin, at 53 the oldest current competitor in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, won the pole position for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 with a speed of 199.706 MPH. He nudged former teammate Carl Edwards off the top of the qualifying list. Edwards posted a speed of 198.626 and will start second.

Martin was the third-to-last qualifier. It was his 55th career pole, tying him with Billy Elliott for seventh place on the all-time series pole list. It was also Martin’s fourth pole this season, despite the fact he’s driving a limited schedule in the Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing.

“I had no idea it was a pole run but I had a good feeling about the race car,” said Martin, who has five career wins. “I certainly gave it everything I had. I really stretched the limits of my talent level qualifying in one lap.

“It’s great when you drive a race car as fast as that when you feel you have, what I believe, is the fastest race car for the day.”
Martin said he, too, was surprised at the feat.

“In this business I don’t expect results, I expect effort,” he added. “The one thing you will get from me is every ounce that I can find and you’ll get that no matter what the result might be. I just feel that this is a very lucky time in my career and my life because I get to race on my terms and do things the way I want to do them.”

Marcos Ambrose’s MIS track qualifying record of 203.241 set in June on the newly repaved track never seemed in jeopardy. Ambrose qualified eighth fastest with a speed of 197.493.

Martin left most of his compatriots shaking their heads in wonderment, especially Edwards who was also a late qualifier and felt somewhat enthused about his chance of gaining the pole.

“It’s pretty amazing, especially at his age,” Edwards said. “He’s an inspiration to me as to how well he can do over such a long period of time. I had Mark Martin toys when I was a little kid. There are generations of people who have all had little Mark Martin toys. Who knows, my kids, some day, might be racing against the guy. He can probably bench press more than all of us, go faster than all of us.  He’s a spectacular guy.”

Johnson registered the fastest practice time Friday with a speed of 197.450 MPH, but eight drivers surpassed that during qualifying, including Johnson, the third-fastest qualifier at 198.440. He was followed by brief pole-sitter Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne and Trevor Bayne.

“Qualifying, historically, is not my bag,” Johnson said. “I’m very happy with my effort and I wanted to be a little faster and get the pole but it was just a great day and nothing to complain about.”

Asked what keeps NASCAR’s Energizer Bunny, Martin, going Johnson, like Edwards, just shook his head in reverence.

“What keeps him going is his love for the sport,” Johnson said. “He’s a racer through and through. We all know his dedication to fitness and nutrition and that’s what keeps him sharp and at the top of his game at 53 years old. And you can’t take out the fact that the guy has a ton of talent. That’s why he’s Mark Martin.”

Results

POS CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR SPEED TIME BEHIND
1 55 Mark Martin Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 199.706 36.053 Leader
2 99 Carl Edwards Ford Geek Squad 198.626 36.249 -0.196
3 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 198.440 36.283 -0.230
4 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Fifth Third Bank 198.183 36.330 -0.277
5 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet Farmers Insurance 197.878 36.386 -0.333
6 21 Trevor Bayne Ford Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center 197.781 36.404 -0.351
7 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 197.650 36.428 -0.375
8 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Stanley 197.493 36.457 -0.404
9 83 Landon Cassill Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper 197.433 36.468 -0.415
10 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Menards / Pittsburgh Paints 197.163 36.518 -0.465
11 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger / AARP 197.115 36.527 -0.474
12 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 5-hour Energy 197.012 36.546 -0.493
13 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 196.893 36.568 -0.515
14 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Mobil 1 / Office Depot 196.877 36.571 -0.518
15 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Wix Filters 196.732 36.598 -0.545
16 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 196.501 36.641 -0.588
17 22 Parker Kligerman Dodge Shell / Pennzoil 196.249 36.688 -0.635
18 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row / Farm American 196.217 36.694 -0.641
19 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 196.180 36.701 -0.648
20 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Jimmy Johns 196.052 36.725 -0.672
21 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Office 195.956 36.743 -0.690
22 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / Diet Mountain Dew 195.822 36.768 -0.715
23 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Interstate Batteries 193.299 37.248 -1.195
24 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Mercury 193.268 37.254 -1.201
25 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 193.138 37.279 -1.226
26 51 Kurt Busch Chevrolet HendrickCars.com 192.988 37.308 -1.255
27 191 Reed Sorenson Ford Plinker Tactical 192.709 37.362 -1.309
28 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Clorox 192.596 37.384 -1.331
29 13 Casey Mears Ford GEICO 192.560 37.391 -1.338
30 93 Travis Kvapil Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper 192.539 37.395 -1.342
31 30 David Stremme Toyota Inception Motorsports 192.359 37.430 -1.377
32 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Wheaties 192.282 37.445 -1.392
33 119 Jason Leffler Ford Plinker Tactical 192.205 37.460 -1.407
34 26 Josh Wise* Ford MDS Transport 192.179 37.465 -1.412
35 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota AM / FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves 192.118 37.477 -1.424
36 38 David Gilliland Ford Taco Bell 191.790 37.541 -1.488
37 34 David Ragan Ford Long John Silver's 191.724 37.554 -1.501
38 23 Scott Riggs Chevrolet North Texas Pipe 189.943 37.906 -1.853
39 10 David Reutimann Chevrolet TMone.com 189.036 38.088 -2.035
40 32 T.J. Bell+ Ford Southern Pride Trucking / U.S. Chrome 185.118 38.894 -2.841
41 43 Aric Almirola+ Ford Eckrich - - -
42 36 Dave Blaney+ Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing - - -
43 98 Mike Skinner Ford Phil Parsons Racing 189.939 37.907 -1.854
DNQ 33 Stephen Leicht* Chevrolet Little Joes Autos.com 189.444 38.006 -1.953
DNQ 37 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet Max Q Motorsports 188.157 38.266 -2.213

+ Set by Owner Points
* Denotes Rookie

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