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Martin Bumps Bayne, Wins Pole At Daytona

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Friday, July 1 2011

Mark Martin won the pole and and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon qualified fourth at Daytona on Friday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Sharon Ellman)

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Mark Martin knocked Trevor Bayne off the pole with just six drivers remaining to qualify at Daytona International Speedway on Friday to claim the pole for Saturday night’s Coke 400 Sprint Cup race.

The pole was the 50th of Martin’s career. It came on a lap at 182.065 mph in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

Bayne, the huge-story winner of the Daytona 500 as a 20-year-old rookie in February, went out 12th in the qualifying session and held onto the pole as dozens of big-name drivers came up short in trying to knock him off.

It appeared the fast lap of 182.002 mph Bayne posted in his Wood Brothers Racing Ford would hold up. But it fell when Martin got his first pole of the season.

“When you are that fast, but it’s that early in qualifying you try to never think that you’ve got the pole,” Bayne said. “You always just say, ‘Alright, this is a good, top 10 run or top 5 run because most of the time somebody at the very end will knock you off and you feel pretty bad if you’ve been expecting to be on the pole the whole time, so, for me, I was just really happy to be in the top 10.

“We had to do it on time and then I knew there were some really good cars at the very end, but when it starts getting down to like the last 10 you start to think, ‘Man, I might have a shot at this pole because we’ve held off a lot of good cars already.’  Obviously, we were a little bummed not to get the pole.

“We were all standing on top of the trailer watching and I kept saying, ‘Man, that would be cool.  This person is lined up here,’ and Len (Wood) and Eddie (Wood) would say, ‘Alright, it’s too early for that.  Just hang on a minute.’  They were keeping me in check, but you always want to get the best starting spot possible, but we’re definitely happy with the front row.” Martin will be looking for his first victory of the season in the Coke and the 41st of his career.”

“Can’t wait to get out there tomorrow night,” Martin said.

Clint Bowyer  of Richard Childress Racing was third fastest in the session. He had a lap at 181.624 mph.

“Looking good so far,” Bowyer said. “Looking forward to (racing in the Nationwide race) tonight, having some fun in that Nationwide race and looking forward to a good effort tomorrow night.”

Fourth was Jeff Gordon, Martin’s teammate.

“We keep sharing these poles on these speedways for Hendrick Motorsports,” Gordon said. “So great run for Mark (Martin) and a really good run for us. I can’t wait to get on track with this thing tomorrow and get hooked up with Mark Martin and have a lot of fun. It is an exciting race for a very exciting July 4th weekend. Ought to be plenty of fireworks out there. Hopefully the only fireworks we are worrying about are the ones in victory lane.”

David Ragan, who was in position for a shot to win this year’s 500, was fifth with a lap at 181.320 mph.

Sixth was Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Andy Lally, Jimmie Johnson, A.J. Allmendinger and Paul Menard filled out the top 10.

“As a driver on the personal level it’s a huge positive, it’s a huge shot in the arm, it’s a huge encouragement coming from the team that we’ve got good equipment here,” Lally, who drives a Ford for TRG, said. “As far as did Andy put it seventh?  No.  I just stood on the gas and tried to stay as close to the yellow line as I could, and my guys gave me a fast piece.  I don’t want to take any credit for putting the thing up as high as it is.  I was just fortunate to get behind the wheel of a good car here this week, and at Daytona and Talladega that’s what is.

“But as far as what it does for me mentally as building up confidence knowing that we’ve got a good piece here, we were pretty decent in the draft at Talladega and knowing that we’ve improved a little bit on that, it certainly will be nice if we can hang around on this thing and stay on the lead lap until we get close to the finish.”

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Friday, July 1 2011
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