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Martin Earns Talladega Pole

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, October 22 2011

Hendrick Motorsports drivers Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon were first and fifth fastest in qualifying at Talladega Saturday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

Mark Martin won the pole Saturday for Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway. Martin, a non-Chase driver, turned a lap at 181.367 mph.

“Oh course the race is a bigger more important competition but this is still for pride and I am very proud of my race team because of the great work that they have done, pulled off the pole at Daytona as well in July, and I tore the car up,” Martin said. “It was not like they had the same piece in tack to do it again with. I am very proud of them and they do great work.”

Second fastest in qualifying was Martin’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson. Johnson’s fast lap was 181.360 mph.

Another non-Chaser, Clint Bowyer, was third fastest and Trevor Bayne was fourth in the Wood Brothers Ford.

“I think that shows how much work the 21 guys put into these cars,” Bayne said, “and they do a great job at the superspeedways and the work shows up here. It is all about speed and our car has it. I think it is a solid run for our Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford. Hopefully we can keep it up there all day. Qualifying doesn’t really matter once the green flag drops with all the drafting that is going on. You will move around from the back to the front and back again. We will hang out and see who we hook up with.”

Jeff Gordon was fifth.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was sixth, giving Hendrick drivers four of the top six starting spots.

“Just a very fast race car and you look at where all four Hendrick cars are and we have a lot to be proud of and our qualifying efforts this year on the plate tracks have just been amazing,” Johnson said. “I wish we were two hendreths of a second faster, because Mark ( Martin) got us by a couple of thousandths there but we will take it and just go race hard on Sunday and see where we end up.”

Rounding out the top 10 were Paul Menard, David Ragan, points leader Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman.

Martin has not had the type of season he wanted or expected in the final year with Hendrick. But in recent weeks, the No. 5 team has showed signs of life.

“We have definitely, yes,” Martin said, “we have made great progress starting all the way back in Indy, we had a fast race car at Indy, and we have had a couple of exceptions where we missed it but for the most part we have really, been gaining on it and I am really proud of that because everybody on the team is putting their whole heart into this and they know that there is a lot of changes coming at the end of the year and they are putting their whole heart into each and every race. It is really cool to see us gain momentum here late in the season, wish we could have started that back in the spring but it feels really good. Really proud of these guys and this race team.”

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, October 22 2011
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