Martin claims Atlanta Cup pole

Mark Martin claimed his first pole position for nearly eight years in qualifying for Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Martin claims Atlanta Cup pole

The 50-year-old had already been fastest in practice but ran even faster in qualifying, setting a lap of 29.640 seconds at an average speed of 187.045mph, getting a pole for the first time since Richmond in 2001 - 256 races ago.

"I feel like a rookie," Martin joked after claiming his 42nd career pole. "I feel shaking from the lap and I was nervous and sick of my stomach about the whole thing. It's pretty cool for us to pull this one off. We need to go win us a race but this will give us a good starting spot."

Martin joined Harry Gant as the only other driver to win a pole position in the Sprint Cup series at over 50 years of age. Gant had three poles after turning 50, the last coming at Bristol when he was 54.

Lining up beside Martin on the front row will be Kurt Busch, who continued to run as the best from the Dodge camp, while Jamie McMurray was third, putting three different manufacturers in the top three.

McMurray was one of many who had trouble getting the right feel with Goodyear's tyre selection for the weekend.

"That's a really good lap," he said. "I don't know if it's the tyre that Goodyear has brought here, but when we unloaded in practice I thought that we were two or three seconds off the pace and it ended up we were like fifth-quick for most of practice. The cars just drive really odd."

Juan Pablo Montoya matched his best qualifying of the year with fourth and was by far the best from the Earnhardt Ganassi camp. His starting spot on Sunday will be his best since November 2007 at Texas when he started from third place.

"The car had the pace to be on pole, but coming out of four I started putting on the power and the front started washing out," Montoya said. "I was half throttle when everybody has been wide open and that didn't help. But it is great to see the progress that everybody at Earnhardt Ganassi has done over the weekend."

Greg Biffle was fifth fastest while Denny Hamlin was the fastest Toyota in sixth place ahead of three-time winner at Atlanta Jimmie Johnson, and Joe Nemechek, who despite having probably the smallest team in the garage, was still the fastest non-guaranteed driver in eighth.

"We have a total of five people," said Nemechek. "We're just doing what we can afford to do right now - thankful for getting a race car. We bought some race cars from Red Bull. They're last year's cars. Triad Racing Development is doing the engines, they're making good power. The guys I have on this team have experience.

"I'm telling you, we have a great package. We just need a little bit of money to make this team go."

Last year's winner Kyle Busch was ninth fastest, while Kevin Harvick rounded out the top 10. Behind him, the two Stewart Haas Racing cars of Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman will line up on the sixth row of the grid for Sunday's race.

Carl Edwards, the most recent winner at the track only qualified 29th, while rookie Joey Logano struggled for speed all day and was 42nd fastest out of the 43 cars that made the field, leaving four drivers out of the grid.

Pos Driver Car Speed Time 1. Mark Martin Chevrolet 187.045 29.640 2. Kurt Busch Dodge 186.365 29.748 + 0.108 3. Jamie McMurray Ford 186.309 29.757 + 0.117 4. Juan Montoya Chevrolet 186.209 29.773 + 0.133 5. Greg Biffle Ford 186.184 29.777 + 0.137 6. Denny Hamlin Toyota 186.165 29.780 + 0.140 7. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 186.053 29.798 + 0.158 8. Joe Nemechek Toyota 185.922 29.819 + 0.179 9. Kyle Busch Toyota 185.891 29.824 + 0.184 10. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 185.834 29.833 + 0.193 11. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 185.741 29.848 + 0.208 12. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 185.579 29.874 + 0.234 13. Kasey Kahne Dodge 185.430 29.898 + 0.258 14. Elliott Sadler Dodge 185.337 29.913 + 0.273 15. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 185.282 29.922 + 0.282 16. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 185.269 29.924 + 0.284 17. Brian Vickers Toyota 184.948 29.976 + 0.336 18. David Reutimann Toyota 184.868 29.989 + 0.349 19. Robby Gordon Toyota 184.658 30.023 + 0.383 20. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 184.499 30.049 + 0.409 21. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 184.499 30.049 + 0.409 22. Travis Kvapil Ford 184.260 30.088 + 0.448 23. Martin Truex Jr Chevrolet 184.107 30.113 + 0.473 24. Michael Waltrip Toyota 184.009 30.129 + 0.489 25. Casey Mears Chevrolet 184.003 30.130 + 0.490 26. Scott Speed Toyota 183.978 30.134 + 0.494 27. Dave Blaney Toyota 183.948 30.139 + 0.499 28. David Stremme Dodge 183.923 30.143 + 0.503 29. Carl Edwards Ford 183.881 30.150 + 0.510 30. Matt Kenseth Ford 183.795 30.164 + 0.524 31. David Gilliland Chevrolet 183.765 30.169 + 0.529 32. Reed Sorenson Dodge 183.753 30.171 + 0.531 33. Paul Menard Ford 183.285 30.248 + 0.608 34. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 183.273 30.250 + 0.610 35. Bill Elliott Ford 183.267 30.251 + 0.611 36. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 183.248 30.254 + 0.614 37. Aric Almirola Chevrolet 182.934 30.306 + 0.666 38. A.J. Allmendinger Dodge 182.922 30.308 + 0.668 39. David Ragan Ford 182.856 30.319 + 0.679 40. Bobby Labonte Ford 182.783 30.331 + 0.691 41. John Andretti Chevrolet 182.621 30.358 + 0.718 42. Joey Logano Toyota 181.938 30.472 + 0.832 43. Mike Bliss Chevrolet 182.645 30.354 + 0.714 
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