Martin flies to Brickyard pole
Mark Martin claimed his fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup pole position of the season in qualifying for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard
The 50-year-old, the winner two weeks ago at Chicagoland, backed up his performance from Friday practice at Indianapolis, when he had been quickest, improving around four tenths of a second from his practice benchmark during his qualifying run.
Although he was initially disappointed with his lap as track conditions had changed due to rain showers that delayed the start of the session, the veteran was still an impressive 0.342 seconds quicker than his closest rival, Earnhanrdt Ganassi's Juan Pablo Montoya.
However for Martin his lap was far from the optimum.
"When I came off Turn 4, not a tyre on the car slipped. I was like, 'That's disgusting'. You know, I hadn't drove it hard enough," said Martin, who has never won at Indianapolis before.
"The lap time was spectacular. I thought it was maybe a 50.40s, not a 49.40s. When [crew chief Alan Gustafson] told me the lap time I was like 'Well, okay. I guess that's acceptable'. But it was not really what I was looking for. The lap could have been better."
Montoya had been second quickest in both of Friday's practice sessions and he improved around a tenth of a second relative to his best from practice. However he was also disappointed to have lost the balance that he had on his car during practice.
"Actually it was a little disappointing," said Montoya. "With the track being so late the first few guys had the coolest track and it was hard. I think we had a car to beat Mark but actually the balance was kind of weird.
"We did three runs yesterday, we didn't touch the car and it was always in the loose side. It turned really good and was still a little loose but in the qualifying lap was actually tight and I was kind of surprised."
Dale Earnhardt Jr enjoyed his best qualifying of the season despite feeling ill due to a stomach bug. This weekend he is running a new car, the first one built under the eye of his new crew chief Lance McGrew.
"I had a stomach bug, about a 24-hour bug, Thursday night. About the worst thing ever I went through in my life," Earnhardt Jr said. "But I feel much better now just getting a lot of fluids and we're ready to go.
"This car here is the first car that Lance has truly built from the ground up and he's really proud of it and I want to do a good job for him. It is doing pretty good so far this weekend, so I want to stick it out and I think we'll be all right."
Earnhardt still planned to get Brad Keselowski to complete a couple of laps in his car during the final practice session on Saturday as a precautionary measure ahead of Sunday's event.
Former Brickyard race winner Bill Elliot was impressive once again in qualifying in just his seventh start of the season. The 53-year-old qualified his #21 Wood Brothers Ford on the outside of the second row, being by far the quickest of the non-guaranteed drivers.
"If a 50-year-old can win, I think a few years more ain't gonna hurt a thing," said Elliot. "We'll just have to see. I'm just still kind of dumbfounded that we're where we're at today, especially from looking back just as short as a year ago - and even six or eight races ago."
David Reutimann rounded out the top five as the fastest Toyota, ahead of Brian Vickers and Tony Stewart. Kasey Kahne was the fastest Dodge driver in eighth, ahead of his team-mate Reed Sorenson and Richard Childress Racing's Clint Bowyer.
Australian Marcos Ambrose also enjoyed a good qualifying, setting the 11th fastest time, while some notable drivers such as Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards struggled for balance on their runs, ending up 40th and 41st respectively.
Sterling Marlin, Max Papis and Derrike Cope failed to make the field for Sunday's race.
Pos Driver Car Speed Time Gap 1. Mark Martin Chevrolet 182.054 49.436s 2. Juan Montoya Chevrolet 180.803 49.778s + 0.342s 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 180.567 49.843s + 0.407s 4. Bill Elliott Ford 180.357 49.901s + 0.465s 5. David Reutimann Toyota 180.216 49.940s + 0.504s 6. Brian Vickers Toyota 180.112 49.969s + 0.533s 7. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 179.964 50.010s + 0.574s 8. Kasey Kahne Dodge 179.867 50.037s + 0.601s 9. Reed Sorenson Dodge 179.809 50.053s + 0.617s 10. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 179.773 50.063s + 0.627s 11. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 179.763 50.066s + 0.630s 12. Greg Biffle Ford 179.712 50.080s + 0.644s 13. Martin Truex Jr Chevrolet 179.709 50.081s + 0.645s 14. Denny Hamlin Toyota 179.684 50.088s + 0.652s 15. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 179.404 50.166s + 0.730s 16. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 179.354 50.180s + 0.744s 17. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 179.308 50.193s + 0.757s 18. Joey Logano Toyota 179.126 50.244s + 0.808s 19. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 179.026 50.272s + 0.836s 20. Kyle Busch Toyota 178.923 50.301s + 0.865s 21. David Stremme Dodge 178.919 50.302s + 0.866s 22. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 178.699 50.364s + 0.928s 23. Michael Waltrip Toyota 178.045 50.549s + 1.113s 24. Jamie McMurray Ford 178.010 50.559s + 1.123s 25. Matt Kenseth Ford 177.989 50.565s + 1.129s 26. Scott Speed Toyota 177.746 50.634s + 1.198s 27. Casey Mears Chevrolet 177.469 50.713s + 1.277s 28. Paul Menard Ford 177.417 50.728s + 1.292s 29. David Ragan Ford 177.294 50.763s + 1.327s 30. Joe Nemechek Toyota 177.284 50.766s + 1.330s 31. Bobby Labonte Ford 177.228 50.782s + 1.346s 32. Robby Gordon Toyota 176.974 50.855s + 1.419s 33. AJ Allmendinger Dodge 176.936 50.866s + 1.430s 34. Dave Blaney Toyota 176.502 50.991s + 1.555s 35. John Andretti Chevrolet 176.346 51.036s + 1.600s 36. Regan Smith Chevrolet 176.218 51.073s + 1.637s 37. David Gilliland Chevrolet 176.17 51.087s + 1.651s 38. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 176.167 51.088s + 1.652s 39. Mike Skinner Toyota 175.994 51.138s + 1.702s 40. Kurt Busch Dodge 175.428 51.303s + 1.867s 41. Carl Edwards Ford 175.179 51.376s + 1.940s 42. Elliott Sadler Dodge 171.976 52.333s + 2.897s 43. Terry Labonte Toyota Prov Did not qualify: Sterling Marlin Dodge 175.723 Max Papis Toyota 175.346 Derrike Cope Dodge 170.765
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