Martin wins pole for Phoenix

6:18 PM, Mar 3, 2012   |    comments
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +

Avondale, AZ (Sports Network) - At age 53, Mark Martin still knows how to win a pole position in NASCAR's premier series.

Martin, who is making just his second start for Michael Waltrip Racing, earned the pole for the Subway Fresh Fit 500 after posting the fastest lap in Saturday's qualifying session at Phoenix International Raceway. He was the second-to-last driver who made his qualifying run in the 44-car field. Martin is running a limited Sprint Cup Series schedule in MWR's No. 55 Toyota this season.

"I can't tell you how thankful I am for [team sponsor] Aaron's and everybody at MWR for giving me these awesome Toyotas," he said. "It's been so much fun already to drive, and having an owner like Michael Waltrip, he gets the last little tidbit of credit for that pole."

Martin claimed his 52nd career pole in the series, which places him eighth on the all-time pole winners list.

His first pole at Phoenix came in April 2009. He also won that race, leading a total of 157 laps.

Earlier in the day, MWR announced that Elliott Sadler will drive the No. 55 car in five races this season, beginning with the March 18 event at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Tony Stewart, the defending Sprint Cup champion, qualified 0.133 seconds behind Martin to capture the outside pole. Stewart turned in the fastest overall lap in Friday's practice sessions and therefore was the last driver in the qualifying order.

Regan Smith qualified third, followed by Jimmie Johnson, who is hoping to rebound after a disappointing 42nd-place finish in last Monday night's rain- delayed Daytona 500. He is also minus-23 in points after NASCAR penalized his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team earlier this week for rules violations that occurred during Speedweeks at Daytona.

"I'm very proud of the lap," Johnson said. "The car has been great all weekend, and I look forward to tomorrow's race."

Juan Pablo Montoya placed fifth in qualifying, and Ryan Newman took the sixth spot. Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne, who won at this track three and a half months ago, completed the top-10.

Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth will start 26th in a backup car. Kenseth wrecked his primary vehicle in practice. Newman also crashed in practice and will have to use a backup car as well.

Timmy Hill was the only driver who failed to qualify for Sunday's race, which is scheduled to start just after 3 p.m. (ET).

The Sports Network

Most Watched Videos