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He who laughs last: Martin first in MIS qualifying

August 17, 2012, NASCAR Wire Service, NASCAR.com



He who laughs last: Martin first in MIS qualifying

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Carl Edwards joked that he played with Mark Martin toys as a child.

But it was Martin, 53, who had the last laugh Friday, as he blew away the rest of the field in qualifying for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Pure Michigan 400

Lineup
Pos.DriverSpeedTime
2.C. Edwards 198.626 36.249
3. J. Johnson 198.440 36.283
4.M. Kenseth 198.183 36.330
5. Kasey Kahne 197.878 36.386

Martin toured the 2-mile track in 36.053 seconds (199.706 mph) for a decisive edge over second-place Edwards (198.626 mph). The Coors Light Pole Award was Martin's series-best fourth of the season, his first at Michigan and the 55th of his career, tying him with Bill Elliott for seventh on the all-time series list.

* Out Front with Miss Coors Light: Rachel and Mark

Series leader Jimmie Johnson qualified third at 198.440 mph, followed by Matt Kenseth (198.183 mph) and Kasey Kahne (197.878 mph).

Despite having driven the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota just twice since the Cup Series last visited Michigan in June, Martin showed no rust at all in beating Edwards by .196 seconds.

"Gosh, I've had a few years of practice," Martin said. "I don't need a whole bunch of practice. I just need a race car like what I drove [Friday]. I need fast race cars, and that's what [crew chief] Rodney Childers is giving me.

"All it is is driving the car -- I've been doing that since I was 15."

Edwards, who ran what he thought was a very strong lap, knows about Martin's longevity only too well.

"He is an inspiration for me as to how well you can do for such a long period," Edwards said. "The guy -- I had Mark Martin toys when I was a little kid, and here he is. There are generations of people who have all had little Mark Martin toys and who knows, my kids someday might be racing against the guy, and they will probably be just as frustrated.

"How old is he? 53? He can probably bench press more than all of us and go faster than all of us. He is a pretty spectacular guy."

Notes-n-Nuggets

• Mark Martin won his 55th career Cup pole in his 845th start.
• Mark Martin's last pole was at Dover in June of this season, four starts ago.
• It's Mark Martin's first Michigan pole in 54 starts.
• Mark Martin has now won a pole at 20 different tracks.
• Michael Waltrip Racing notched its 12th all-time pole, and Cup-leading fifth of the season.
• Carl Edwards (second) grabbed his best Michigan start in his 17th race at the track.
• Jimmie Johnson (third) posted his 15th top-10 start in 22 races at Michigan -- one of five tracks at which he is winless.
• Matt Kenseth(fourth) posted his fifth consecutive top-10 start at Michigan.
• Kasey Kahne (fifth) notched his seventh top-10 start at Michigan in the past eight races.
• Parker Kligerman (17th) qualified the No. 22, which Sam Hornish Jr. is expected to race on Sunday. Hornish must start from the rear because of the driver change.
• Aric Almirola (41st) had an accident in his time-trial run that forced him to a backup car.
• Two drivers failed to qualify: Stephen Leicht and J.J. Yeley.

Trevor Bayne, Martin Truex Jr., Marcos Ambrose, Landon Cassill and Paul Menard will start Sunday's race from positions 6 through 10, respectively. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who lost the series lead last Sunday at Watkins Glen, qualified 22nd.