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Kahne tops at Martinsville for second pole of year

March 31, 2012, NASCAR Wire Service, NASCAR.com

Kasey Kahne celebrates with Martinsville pole award with Miss Coors Light Rachel Rupert. (Getty Images)

MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Kasey Kahne proved once again that he's a fast starter, but he's still in dire need of a strong finish.

With a 97.128 mph (19.496 seconds) lap in Saturday's time trials, Kahne edged Kevin Harvick (97.048 mph) for the top starting spot in Sunday's Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Kahne claimed his second Coors Light Pole Award of the season, his first at Martinsville and the 24th of his career.

Martinsville

Race Lineup
Pos.DriverSpeedTime
2.K. Harvick97.048 19.512
3.D. Hamlin97.003 19.521
4.C. Bowyer97.003 19.521
5.R. Newman96.988 19.524

* Out Front with Miss Coors Light: Rachel and Kasey

Four-time Martinsville winner Denny Hamlin (97.003 mph) will start third after running the exact same speed as Clint Bowyer. Hamlin won the tiebreaker for the position based on current owners' points. Ryan Newman (96.988 mph) will start fifth.

In his first year in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Kahne has posted an average starting position of 7.8, but his average finish has been a disappointing 26.6.

"It's a tough track to qualify and a tough track to race -- always has been one of my tougher ones over the years," said Kahne, who has led a total of 19 laps at the famed short track (average finish of 20.7, one top-five and two top-10s in 16 starts). "I'm glad we can start up front, have a great pit stall -- that No. 1 stall -- I think that helps throughout the whole race with track position.

"Hopefully, we'll have a solid day [on Sunday]. That's what we need to do. We've had great Fridays and Saturdays but just haven't put together a Sunday yet."

Brian Vickers, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon and Joey Logano will start from positions 6 through 10, respectively.

Series points leader Greg Biffle qualified 27th as Ford drivers had a rough day at the .526-mile track. Marcos Ambrose led the Ford contingent with a 12th-place effort in time trials. Biffle, however, was more optimistic about the race itself.

"We feel like we're pretty decent in race trim," Biffle said. "Qualifying was our biggest struggle. It's not where we wanted to be, but we've got 500 laps to get there."

The No. 37 Ford of Tony Raines failed post-qualifying inspection when NASCAR deemed the car too low. Accordingly, the qualifying time was disallowed, opening a starting spot for J.J. Yeley.

Notes-n-Nuggets

• Kasey Kahne scored his 24th pole in his 294th start; his first at Martinsville in his 17th start.
• Kasey Kahne is the first repeat pole winner of 2012 (Las Vegas).
• Kasey Kahne has five career wins from the pole.
• Kasey Kahne's best finish in the past 10 races at Martinsville is 14th.
• Hendrick Motorsports scored its 180th career pole, most of all teams; its 15th pole at Martinsville, also the most.
• Chevrolet scored its 50th pole at Martinsville, most of all makes.
• Kevin Harvick (second) scored his best career time trial at Martinsville in his 22nd start.
• Denny Hamlin (third) has won four of the past eight races at Martinsville.
• Clint Bowyer (fourth) posted his third top 10 start in 13 races at Martinsville.
• Ryan Newman (fifth) scored his 14th top-10 start in 21 races at Martinsville.
• Jeff Gordon (ninth) was fastest in both practices; he leads all active drivers with seven wins at Martinsville.
• Points leader Greg Biffle (26th) had started in the top 10 in the previous five races this season.

Scott Speed and Mike Bliss failed to qualify for the 43-car field.

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