Truex Jr. Takes Dover Pole

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It’s been eight years since Martin Truex, Jr. came to Dover International Speedway and made his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut driving his dad’s No. 56 car. On Friday, he returned to Dover for the first time in his new No. 56, now driving for Michael Waltrip Racing, and continued to add to his list of triumphs at the Monster Mile.

Truex secured the pole for Sunday’s Autism Speaks 400 presented by HERSHEY’S Milk & Milkshakes with a lap of 157.315 mph, edging out Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson for the top spot. It’s his first pole at Dover and comes in the same race where Truex scored his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win back in June 2007.

“It was a good lap,” Truex said. “We had a really good practice coming in today. Qualifying this year is something we’ve struggled with, and we’ve put quite a bit of effort into coming up with a plan, and it worked for us.”

Martin, another perennial strong performer at Dover, actually wasn’t that pleased with his car in practice after they were just 17th quickest in the session. So his team’s third-place qualifying result was a surprise.

“Through our experience here, we made a judgment on some changes and hit it just right,” Martin said. “I really got a great lap. It was a little eventful up off of Turn 2. I had to lift out of the gas there for just a split second. It was fixin’ to get big there for just a second. I was real happy to be that fast, and was on a pole run up till that point.”

Kahne, who qualified second, had similar sentiments and anticipated more adjustments during Saturday’s practice sessions.

“It was a good run for us,” Kahne said. “I think we started in the same spot last year. So we’re looking forward to Sunday. We need to keep working on the car tomorrow.”

With Truex running his first season for Michael Waltrip Racing, his team has had to concentrate on setting up cars for races. This week, the team put some extra work into being ready to make a good qualifying run, and that work paid off when the time came.

“For the most part, we’ve been concentrating a lot more on race trim because we don’t have those notes to go off of,” Truex said. “This week we said we’re going to run 30 minutes of race trim [in practice] and then we’re going to qualifying. Just being prepared and having a good plan worked for us. Fortunately we were fast as soon as we went to qualifying trim, which made it easier. It definitely worked for us today.”

Truex hails from Mayetta, N.J., and has long considered Dover to be his home track. After his 2001 arrival on the NASCAR Nationwide Series scene, Truex used wins at Dover in fall 2004 and the spring 2005 as part of his charge to two consecutive series championships. He followed up those Dover achievements with his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup win at the 2007 Autism Speaks 400. He’ll now look to add to that list on Sunday.

“Everything’s going great so far,” Truex said. “It’s been a good day and I’m so proud of my team. To come here with my old number, 56, which has always been so special to me, is great. Hopefully the best is yet to come, and we’ll be in here talking on Sunday.”

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