Mark Martin wins Richmond pole

Mark Martin

Mark Martin proved he still had what it takes to win a pole for a NASCAR Sprint Cup race.

The veteran Martin won the pole position for Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway, knocking off Carl Edwards as the final car to take a qualifying lap.

Edwards was second.

"Man, that was dramatic for me," Edwards said. "I thought we had him, and then he shot up to the top of the scoreboard."

Kevin Harvick (128.041 mph) qualified third, followed by AJ Allmendinger (127.962 mph) and Kyle Busch (127.956 mph), who has won the past three spring Cup events at Richmond. Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start Saturday's race from positions 6 through 10, respectively.

Series points leader Greg Biffle, who went out next to last, was 28th-fastest in the time trials at 126.428 mph.

Conventional wisdom holds that drivers late in the draw during an afternoon session will benefit from a cooler track, but Martin was the only driver late in the session to match, in relative terms, his speed from Friday's first practice session.

"I did not ask [crew chief] Rodney [Childers] what he put under the car," said Martin, who in 1981 won his second career pole at Richmond — in a .542-mile configuration of the track. "We made some improvements to the car in happy Hour [final practice] in race setup right at the end.

"If it would have been me, I probably would have incorporated those changes into the qualifying setup, and I didn't want to ask Rodney if he did or not, or what he did to the car. All I want to do is roll out on the race track with no preconceived notion and drive it as fast as it'd go and rely on him and his judgment."

Martin was second-fastest after the first of his two laps and edged Edwards on his second time around.

"I was really hoping that he [Childers] would call me [on the radio] on the first lap and tell me to shut it down — I told him to tell me to shut it down if we happened to get the pole on the first lap. When he didn't, I was afraid, 'Oh, no, we're 15th-fastest. That wasn't near fast enough, and I've really got to get up on the wheel.'

"I was very close to skinning the car up, especially off of [Turn] 4 on the second lap, and that was my concern. That was my concern in practice, as well. Both the qualifying runs I made in practice, I almost skinned it up, too. So I was driving as hard as I can go — at the very limit of my talent, for sure — and if I keep pushing the limits, I'm going to run out of talent here, one of these days."

MARK MARTIN, No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 1st

Is this like a second childhood and are you enjoying driving for Michael Waltrip Racing?
"Yeah, I am. I just love driving that Aaron's Toyota and working with everybody at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing). They believe in me and we're just having so much fun and that was a good lap. I didn't think I could get the pole. We were on keel off the truck and wanted to get that last draw so we'd have our best shot at it. Golly, our fans out there can break out the 'Epic Swag' t-shirts and follow me on Twitter — MarkMartin55."

How was your qualifying run?
"Well, I tried to get it on the first lap. I really didn't want to run the second lap. I knew I was going to be close to wrecking and I didn't want to wreck the car and when he (Rodney Childers, crew chief) didn't call me off on the first lap, I knew that we hadn't got it. I couldn't tell. I thought we might be 15th, you know? I had to buckle down and try to get a little bit more that second lap. It's just a tribute to everybody that supports us at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) — great race cars — Aaron's, Toyota — all their support — that race team, Rodney Childers and all the fans that support us. I got this job because I've got these fans."

How were you able to follow your practice speeds by winning the pole?
"Luck. Man, is it fun though. I tell you what — I'm driving fast race cars and working with great people."

Did you surprise Carl Edwards by taking the pole?
"That's the fun of racing and competition. I think a lot of guys like to see an old dude like me pull one off every once in a while. It's pretty cool. Carl's (Edwards) a good dude. It'll be there other way around next time probably."

Does this give you momentum for tomorrow night?
"I haven't even thought about tomorrow night yet. I've got a great race car. Let's go racing."

Does this give you an edge to win tomorrow night?
"Well, I don't know. It's hard to say. We won one competition and that's what it's all about. When you get to this stage in my career, winning any competition is a cool thing. I get to drive such great race cars. MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) is doing an awesome job and my teammates are working together so well and we've got such great teamwork, fast cars. Rodney Childers (crew chief) does an awesome job. It'd be cool to win a race, but just driving fast stuff is pretty fun."

What are your thoughts on running more than 20,000 laps at this track?
"That's pretty crazy. I sat on the pole 31 years ago. That is a story in itself — that's pretty crazy. I just thought of that, because we got the pole here in 1981 when I was just doing five races with my own car. I've been so fortunate to drive fast race cars and work with great people and I can't believe that Aaron's and MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) are giving me a chance to drive this stuff at this stage of the game. I'm just a really lucky guy.



1 55 Mark Martin Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 128.327 21.040 Leader
2 99 Carl Edwards Ford Roush Fenway Racing 128.290 21.046 -0.006
3 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches 128.041 21.087 -0.047
4 22 AJ Allmendinger Dodge Shell / Pennzoil 127.962 21.100 -0.060
5 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's Ms. Brown 127.956 21.101 -0.061
6 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 127.750 21.135 -0.095
7 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Freight 127.732 21.138 -0.098
8 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Brakes 127.678 21.147 -0.107
9 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet Farmers Insurance 127.593 21.161 -0.121
10 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / Diet Mountain Dew 127.545 21.169 -0.129
11 43 Aric Almirola Ford Smithfield "Helping Hungry Homes" 127.455 21.184 -0.144
12 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet U.S. Army 127.395 21.194 -0.154
13 51 Kurt Busch Chevrolet Phoenix Construction Services 127.328 21.205 -0.165
14 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Stanley 127.280 21.213 -0.173
15 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row / Farm American 127.209 21.225 -0.185
16 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 126.993 21.261 -0.221
17 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet SealWrap 126.963 21.266 -0.226
18 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 126.915 21.274 -0.234
19 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Bush's Baked Beans 126.892 21.278 -0.238
20 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 126.820 21.290 -0.250
21 83 Landon Cassill Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper 126.796 21.294 -0.254
22 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Mobil 1 / Office Depot 126.749 21.302 -0.262
23 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 5-hour Energy 126.695 21.311 -0.271
24 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Roush Fenway Racing 126.683 21.313 -0.273
25 98 Michael McDowell Ford Curb Records 126.612 21.325 -0.285
26 13 Casey Mears Ford GEICO 126.487 21.346 -0.306
27 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 126.464 21.350 -0.310
28 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M "Give Kids A Smile" 126.428 21.356 -0.316
29 93 Travis Kvapil Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper 126.351 21.369 -0.329
30 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet BB&T 126.121 21.408 -0.368
31 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet NIBCO / Menards 126.121 21.408 -0.368
32 26 Josh Wise* Ford Morristown Driver's Service 126.103 21.411 -0.371
33 10 David Reutimann Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing 126.033 21.423 -0.383
34 30 David Stremme Toyota Inception Motorsports 125.980 21.432 -0.392
35 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota / Pellet & Wood Stoves 125.886 21.448 -0.408
36 195 Scott Speed Ford Tommy Williams Drywall 125.839 21.456 -0.416
37 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet McDonald's 125.669 21.485 -0.445
38 34 David Ragan Ford Front Row Motorsports 125.564 21.503 -0.463
39 119 Mike Bliss Toyota Humphrey Smith Racing 125.319 21.545 -0.505
40 33 Stephen Leicht Chevrolet Little Joes 125.151 21.574 -0.534
41 38 David Gilliland Ford Long John Silver's 124.481 21.690 -0.650
42 32 Reed Sorenson+ Ford FAS Lane Racing 124.395 21.705 -0.665
43 74 Cole Whitt Chevrolet Turn One Racing 124.636 21.663 -0.623
Did Not Qualify
44 23 Scott Riggs Chevrolet North Texas Pipe 123.813 21.807 -0.767
45 249 J.J. Yeley Toyota America Israel Racing / JPO Absorbents 122.560 22.030 -0.990

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