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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