Brooklyn, MI (Sports Network) - The older Mark Martin gets, the faster he
seems to be on the racetrack.
Martin, 53, claimed his fourth Sprint Cup Series pole of the season by winning
Friday's qualifying for the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International
Speedway. His first of two qualifying laps around this two-mile track was
clocked at 199.706 mph. It was the first time Martin has won the pole in 54
attempts at Michigan.
Martin is running a limited Sprint Cup schedule for Michael Waltrip Racing
this year. This will be his 15th start of the season.
"I have to drive these things fast, because I'm trying to keep a job here,"
Martin jokingly said. "I didn't wreck on the first lap, so I tried to go a
little harder on the second lap. There was no way. I wobbled it into (turn)
one, and there was no way I was going to beat it after that.
"I'm designed and geared for one lap qualifying. I know I can never make it
another lap that crazy, no matter what."
Martin now has 55 career poles, which placed him in a tie with Bill Elliott
for seventh on the series' all-time pole winners list.
Carl Edwards, who is one of several drivers contending for a wild card
position in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, claimed the outside
pole with a lap at 198.626 mph. Edwards has yet to win a race this season and
currently sits seventh in the wild card rankings.
"That was a good lap," he said. "I'm surprised how fast Mark's lap was. Our
lap was pretty good, so Mark really stepped it up, and it was a great lap for
Jimmie Johnson qualified third, followed by Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne.
Trevor Bayne, Martin Truex Jr., Marcos Ambrose, who won last weekend's race at
Watkins Glen, N.Y., Landon Cassill and Paul Menard completed the top-10.
Other notable Chase contenders and their starting positions include: Jeff
Gordon (11th), Clint Bowyer (12th), Tony Stewart (14th), Ryan Newman (15th),
Joey Logano (16th), Brad Keselowski (19th), Denny Hamlin (21st), Dale
Earnhardt Jr. (22nd) and Kyle Busch (23rd).
Busch won at Michigan one year ago, while Earnhardt Jr. took the checkered
flag here in June, snapping a four-year, 143-race winless streak in the
series. He started 17th in that race.
"We ran a few laps in race trim, and the car felt pretty good, but we had a
terrible practice as far as qualifying trim goes," Earnhardt Jr. said. "That
(qualifying lap) was a little bit of improvement, but obviously the track has
got a little bit more speed than that in it."
Stephen Leicht and J.J. Yeley failed to qualify.
When the series ran on Michigan's newly repaved surface two months ago,
Ambrose posted the fastest qualifying lap at 203.241 mph, making him the
fastest driver in NASCAR qualifications in 25 years. Speeds were slower in
qualifying this time since track temperatures were significantly cooler.
Sunday's 400-mile race at Michigan is scheduled to start just after 1 p.m.
The Sports Network