News & Media

Martin leads strong Hendrick effort in 'Dega quals

October 22, 2011, Sporting News Wire Service,

If Sunday's Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega Superspeedway goes the same way Saturday's qualifying session did, Rick Hendrick should have an excellent chance to pick up his 200th Sprint Cup victory.


Race Lineup
2.J. Johnson 181.360 52.801
3.C. Bowyer 181.243 52.835
4.T. Bayne 181.010 52.903
5.J. Gordon 180.918 52.930

Mark Martin paced four Hendrick cars in the top six starting spots, posting a lap of 181.367 mph (52.799 seconds) to win the pole for the sixth race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Martin narrowly edged teammate and five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson (181.360 mph) by two-thousandths of a second.

The Coors Light Pole Award was Martin's second of the season and the 51st of his career, eighth on the all-time list.

"I really want to make sure that I give 100 percent of the credit to, first, the organization of Hendrick Motorsports for the incredible work that they do on restrictor-plate racing cars," Martin said. "But also [crew chief] Lance McGrew and the team took the same parts and pieces that the three teammates had and managed to put down just a little bit quicker lap.

Video: Out Front with Miss Coors Light

"It is a competition. Someone asked me [Friday] about the pole, and I said, 'Yes, sir, we're going for it.' It's a competition, too, and we try to win every single competition there is, no matter what it is. Of course, the race is a bigger, more important competition, but this is still for pride -- and I'm proud of my team for the great work they have done."

Daytona 500 winner and Ford driver Trevor Bayne (181.011 mph) qualified fourth as the only non-Chevrolet driver in the top seven. Clint Bowyer will start third after a lap at 181.243 mph. Jeff Gordon (180.918 mph) qualified fifth, followed by Hendrick teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. (180.905 mph).

Chase leader Carl Edwards will start ninth. Other Chase drivers are as follows: Ryan Newman 10th, Matt Kenseth 11th, Tony Stewart 12th, Kevin Harvick 13th, Kurt Busch 14th, Brad Keselowski 16th, Denny Hamlin 31st and Kyle Busch 34th.

Bayne was delighted to drive the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford at another restrictor-plate track.

"I think that shows how much work the 21 guys put into these cars, and they do a great job on the superspeedways, and the work shows up here," Bayne said. "It's all about speed, and our car has it."


• Mark Martin scored his 51st career pole in his 826th start; he ranks eighth on the all-time list.
• Mark Martin scored his third career pole at Talladega in his 48th start; it's his second pole of the season (summer Daytona).
• Mark Martin Was third-fastest in first practice with a time of 48.231 seconds (198.545 mph).
• Mark Martin has eight career wins from the pole.
• Hendrick Motorsports scored its fourth pole of 2011 and 178th career pole, most of all time; it's his sixth pole at 'Dega, tying the Wood Brothers for fifth most.
• Hendrick Motorsports started in the top four at Talladega in April; its four cars will start in the top six this week.
• Chevrolet scored its 11th pole of 2011 and 28th pole at Talladega, both most of all manufacturers.
• Jimmie Johnson (second) won at Talladega after starting second in April.
• Clint Bowyer (third) posted his third top-five start at Talladega; he has finished in the top two in the past two races at 'Dega.
• Trevor Bayne (fourth) posted his second career top-five start; he started second at Daytona in July.
• Jeff Gordon (fifth) posted his 13th top-five start at Talladega in 28 starts; he has six wins at 'Dega, most among active drivers.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. (sixth) has posted top-seven starts in the past four races at Talladega.
• Chase drivers make up 10 of the top-16 starting spots; Denny Hamlin qualified 31st and Kyle Busch 34th.
• Three drivers have started in the top 10 in all four plate races in 2011: Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Geoffrey Bodine, Scott Speed, T.J. Bell and Josh Wise failed to qualify for the 43-car field.