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Old Man Martin wins pole in Phoenix

54-Year Old Martin awards sponsor Aarons with a pole
Friday, March 01, 2013

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Mark Martin
Getty Images for NASCAR
Mark Martin may not be the oldest driver to win a pole in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series -- yet -- but with his top qualifying effort Friday at Phoenix International Raceway, the seemingly ageless driver owns positions two through seven on the list.

Martin, 54, was the only driver in time trials for Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 to top 138 mph. Martin’s lap at 138.074 mph, a record for the spring event at PIR, was good enough to edge Kasey Kahne (137.862 mph) for the top starting spot.

Jimmie Johnson was late to the grid after his car had issues on NASCAR’s newest inspection process, the laser platform, but that didn’t prevent the Daytona 500 winner from knocking out a lap at 137.804 mph to secure the third starting spot for Sunday’s race.

Kyle Busch (137.673 mph) qualified fourth, followed by Jeff Gordon (137.164 mph). Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman will start from positions six through 10 in the second Cup race of the season.

The chassis Martin drove to the pole position was the same one that qualified fastest in the Sprint race at Phoenix last year. Even with the new body style of the Gen-6 race car, his Camry was still fast.

“We did bring a different car here last fall,” said Martin, who won his third pole at Phoenix. “We thought it was the cat daddy, and we didn’t run as well as we might have, and so it didn’t come back. I didn’t know until we were standing out there qualifying, and he (crew chief Rodney Childers) mentioned that this was the car from the spring.”

The pole was Martin’s 56th, breaking a tie with Bill Elliott for seventh on the career list. Driving a 24-race Cup schedule, Martin won the Coors Light pole award four times last season, and Kahne looks to the No. 55 Toyota Camry as one of the top contenders every time Martin is on the track.

“I watch everybody qualify, and when he goes out, he’s probably the guy, more than anyone else, that’s probably going to beat me -- or it’s going to be close,” Kahne said. “That’s just the way it is with Mark right now. Last year it was the same way.

“He has a really good connection with Rodney, and the situation he’s in, and they’re fast when it comes to qualifying -- every week.”

After his car passed inspection, Johnson’s crew pushed the No. 48 Chevrolet to the front of the grid in plenty of time to make the qualifying run.

“It’s really different now, because the machine (laser platform) runs its course, and everybody stands around waiting, and the lasers do what they do, and you’re either ‘pass’ or ‘no,’” Johnson said. “We had a couple of ‘No’s’ to start, and then it was right.

“It was something in the back of the car. That’s what the guys were saying.”

A week after leading the Daytona 500 field to green from the pole position, Danica Patrick will start 40th after a disappointing qualifying lap at 132.890 mph (27.090 seconds).

“It was just loose, Patrick said. “I just couldn’t turn the car… We really tried to chase that. We knew that from last year being here, that it was going to get loose in qualifying, and in practice, at the end, we made a change, and the car was dancing all around on top of the track.

“We thought we fixed it for qualifying, but we had the same problem again. It’s really disappointing. I know it’s good to qualify further up on these short tracks to stay on the lead lap. We know we always get better in the race, and that’s the strong part of the weekend usually for us, but to have a really great weekend all around, you’ve got to qualify better.”

Results


Pos Car Driver Team Time Speed Behind Gap
1 55 Mark Martin Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota 26.073 138.074 0.000 0.000
2 5 Kasey Kahne Quaker State Chevrolet 26.113 137.862 0.040 0.040
3 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet 26.124 137.804 0.051 0.011
4 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota 26.149 137.673 0.076 0.025
5 24 Jeff Gordon Pepsi MAX Chevrolet 26.246 137.164 0.173 0.097
6 14 Tony Stewart Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet 26.250 137.143 0.177 0.004
7 29 Kevin Harvick Jimmy John's Chevrolet 26.263 137.075 0.190 0.013
8 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Ground Toyota 26.292 136.924 0.219 0.029
9 20 Matt Kenseth Husky Toyota 26.300 136.882 0.227 0.008
10 39 Ryan Newman Quicken Loans Chevrolet 26.304 136.861 0.231 0.004
11 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford 26.309 136.835 0.236 0.005
12 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Best Buy Ford 26.329 136.731 0.256 0.020
13 15 Clint Bowyer 5-hour Energy Toyota 26.344 136.654 0.271 0.015
14 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Filters Toyota 26.354 136.602 0.281 0.010
15 99 Carl Edwards Subway Ford 26.377 136.483 0.304 0.023
16 27 Paul Menard Menards/Serta Chevrolet 26.400 136.364 0.327 0.023
17 16 Greg Biffle 3M/Novec Ford 26.414 136.291 0.341 0.014
18 43 Aric Almirola Farmland Ford 26.419 136.266 0.346 0.005
19 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet 26.483 135.936 0.410 0.064
20 31 Jeff Burton Cheerios Chevrolet 26.492 135.890 0.419 0.009
21 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard Chevrolet 26.496 135.870 0.423 0.004
22 9 Marcos Ambrose DeWalt Ford 26.580 135.440 0.507 0.084
23 51 AJ Allmendinger Guy Roofing Chevrolet 26.580 135.440 0.507 0.000
24 34 David Ragan Ford 26.614 135.267 0.541 0.034
25 78 Kurt Busch Furniture Row/Beautyrest Chevrolet 26.618 135.247 0.545 0.004
26 7 Dave Blaney Sany Chevrolet 26.647 135.100 0.574 0.029
27 36 JJ Yeley Accell Construction Chevrolet 26.654 135.064 0.581 0.007
28 95 Scott Speed Surrender the Sponsor Ford 26.683 134.917 0.610 0.029
29 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet 26.702 134.821 0.629 0.019
30 93 Travis Kvapil Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota 26.725 134.705 0.652 0.023
31 38 David Gilliland Long John Silver's Ford 26.727 134.695 0.654 0.002
32 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 26.791 134.373 0.718 0.064
33 47 Bobby Labonte Glad Toyota 26.797 134.343 0.724 0.006
34 83 David Reutimann Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota 26.903 133.814 0.830 0.106
35 19 Mike Bliss(i) Plinker Tactical/Value Place Toyota 26.911 133.774 0.838 0.008
36 35 Josh Wise(i) Blockbuster.com Ford 26.948 133.591 0.875 0.037
37 OP 30 David Stremme Swan Racing Toyota 26.952 133.571 0.879 0.004
38 OP 33 Landon Cassill Little Joe's Autos Chevrolet 26.990 133.383 0.917 0.038
39 OP 44 Scott Riggs(i) No Label Watches Ford 27.084 132.920 1.011 0.094
40 OP 10 Danica Patrick # GoDaddy.com Chevrolet 27.090 132.890 1.017 0.006
41 OP 87 Joe Nemechek(i) MaddiesPlaceRocks.com Toyota 27.268 132.023 1.195 0.178
42 OP 32 Ken Schrader Safe Skies Locks Ford 27.325 131.747 1.252 0.057
43 OP 13 Casey Mears GEICO Ford 27.421 131.286 1.348 0.096

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