Martinsville, VA (Sports Network) - Kasey Kahne became the first repeat pole
winner in the Sprint Cup Series this season after posting the quickest lap in
Saturday's qualifying session for the Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville
Kahne, in his first season as driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet for Hendrick
Motorsports, turned a lap at 97.128 mph around the 0.526-mile paperclip-shaped
track for his 24th career pole in the series. His first pole this season came
earlier this month at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
"I've qualified decent at Martinsville before but never a pole, so this was a
solid qualifying day," said Kahne, whose previous best qualifying run at
Martinsville was second, which came in 2005.
Kahne has struggled in the early going of this season, as he sits 27th in the
point standings. He has yet to record a top-10 finish in 2011.
Kevin Harvick, who won last year's spring race at Martinsville, earned the
outside pole with a lap at 97.048 mph. He qualified just 0.016 seconds behind
"It's been a great start to the season, as far as the speed in the cars in
qualifying," Harvick said. "We've raced well on a lot of different types of
racetracks. It's been good, and it's made our jobs a lot easier on Sunday."
Harvick will make his 400th career Sprint Cup start in Sunday's 500-lap race
Denny Hamlin, who hails from nearby Chesterfield, VA, qualified third. Hamlin
has won three of the last five races at Martinsville.
"A third starting spot is good for us," he said. "We really didn't show a
whole lot of good qualifying speed or really front-end speed during a long run
[in practice] yesterday."
Clint Bowyer took the fourth spot, while Ryan Newman placed fifth.
Brian Vickers, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon and Joey Logano
completed the top-10. Vickers is driving the No. 55 Toyota for Michael Waltrip
Racing, as Mark Martin takes his second race weekend off during his limited
schedule this season.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished second to Harvick one year ago at
Martinsville, qualified 14th, one spot ahead of Tony Stewart, the defending
series champion and race winner at Martinsville last October.
Scott Speed, Mike Bliss and Tony Raines failed to qualify. Raines had made the
starting field until his Ford failed post-qualifying inspection. His time was
disallowed when officials discovered his car to be too low. That allowed J.J.
Yeley to grab the final spot in the 43-car field.
Sunday's race is scheduled to start just after 1 p.m. (ET).
The Sports Network