Martin Claims 56th Career Pole

Mark Martin

Martin's 56 poles put him seventh on the all-time series list and he became the second oldest pole winner at 54 years and one month behind Harry Gant. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)


AVONDALE, Ariz. - Mark Martin claimed his 56th career pole on Friday in qualifying for the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

After posting the third fastest lap in practice, the veteran driver put his Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota in the top spot for Sunday’s second race of the 2013 Sprint Cup Series season with a lap of 138.074 mph. It was his second consecutive pole in the March race at PIR and he did it with the same chassis.

Mark Martin"They took a good car and made a pole car out of it," Martin said. "It's all about trophies, and we got a small one today. There's a bigger one Sunday."

Martin's 56 poles put him seventh on the all-time series list and he became the second oldest pole winner at 54 years and one month behind Harry Gant.

Kasey Kahne will start outside the front row in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

"I thought on the first lap I just slid, probably the front tires more than anything; the second lap I had more grip and was able to push a little bit harder,” explained Kahne. “It felt pretty good from where we came from in practice.”

Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson lines-up third despite having his car push through the inspection line three times prior to qualifying.

“Yeah, that is never fun, but luckily I’ve been through it before,” said Johnson. “I was able to get strapped in and get all my gear on before I got down to the end. I’m not even sure we were on the clock yet. It always gets your attention when you are standing there, it’s almost your turn and your car isn’t there.

“Everybody starts asking what is up, so glad there was nothing up and we got it all dialed in and just got down there a little late.”

Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top five.

"We picked up a little bit of time from practice, so that’s always good and can’t say enough about all these guys on the M&M’s team from Joe Gibbs Racing," Busch said. "We left off right where we were when we were here in the fall and led a bunch of laps and we were fast - led every practice session I think."

Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman completed the first 10 finishers.

Kurt Busch smacked the wall early in Friday’s session damaging his Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet. He qualified 25th but will start at the rear of the field after moving to a back-up car.

Danica PatrickAfter winning the pole at Daytona, Danica Patrick struggled in qualifying Friday and turned the 40th fastest lap.

“I know how important it is on these short tracks to qualify well,” said Patrick. "So we're just going to have to come out of it like a bat out of hell at the beginning.”

All 43 drivers who took time during the session will start the race on Sunday.

Sprint Cup Series teams will have a pair of practice sessions on Saturday.

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