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Martin On Pole And Other Rock & Roll Notes

| , RacinToday.com Friday, September 11 2009
Mark Martin will start the Rock & Roll 400 from the front of the field Saturday night. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)

Mark Martin will start the Rock & Roll 400 from the front of the field Saturday night. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)

By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer

Richmond, Va. – Chase for the Sprint Cup contender Mark Martin will start from the pole in Saturday night’s Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway,

The veteran toured the .75-mile D-shaped oval at 126.808 miles per hour to edge Martin Truex Jr. for his sixth pole of the season.

“To be able to do stuff like this is beyond my…I can’t describe it to you,” the 50-year-old Martin said. “The car is awesome in race trim too.

“We had a pretty good car in Atlanta when we went out to qualify. There’s a lot of pressure to not mess up. When qualifying was over with (in Atlanta), I felt like I had been a tad conservative.

“Tonight, I had the confidence in the car from practice, and I knew what was riding on it. And I felt like it was worth the risk to go out there and get it all.”

It was the second consecutive front-row effort for Truex, who won the pole in Atlanta last weekend.

“The car felt pretty good,” Truex said. “It was kind of just last week. We made a few changes before qualifying and it worked out for us. Hopefully, we can finish the deal this week.”

Hometown favorite Denny Hamlin starts third, just ahead of Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne.

A win would just kind of put us over the edge and have us poking out our chase pretty big,” Hamlin said.

Notes and Quotes from Richmond

With a solid run in Saturday night’s Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway, Juan Pablo Montoya can clinch a berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

It’s no secret that the Colombia native has placed a season-long emphasis on NASCAR’s version of the playoffs. He’s even admitted that he’s been “points racing.”

So will he alter his strategy if he clinches a spot in the Chase this weekend?

“Our first goal this year was really making the Chase,” said Montoya, who is winless this season. “I think the wins will come. I think the way we’ve been running, we’ve been there. We’ve been so close probably three or four times this year we’ve had the chance to win the race and it hasn’t happened, I think it’s just a matter of time.

“Before you can get wins, you have to compete for them. You’ve got to be there and you have to give yourself chances. We’re doing that. As long as we’re giving ourselves chances things will happen. Sooner than later, things will go our way.

“Right now, our goal this year was really making the Chase and we’re looking pretty decent to making it. But we’ll see.”

A mere 20 points out of the final berth in NASCAR’s playoffs, Brian Vickers says he’s approaching Saturday night’s regular season finale with the same game plan he’s used during the season’s previous 25 events.

Vickers will focus on his car and let his team worry about how the other Chase contenders are faring.

“I think the team is going to be well-aware of where everybody’s at,” Vickers said. “It’s something they are going to stay aware of, but for me personally, I am probably not going to focus that much on it.

“I’m sure if I’m around Matt (Kenseth) or Kyle (Busch) or Greg Biffle that I am racing for a spot in the Chase with, then yes, I am going to be aware of that.

“But I’m not going on the radio asking, ‘where’s Matt?’ That’s not my concern. My concern is going to be focusing on myself, the car and what I can do with that to better improve our position and pass the guy in front of me.”

When it comes to performance during the 10-race Chase, there has historically been no one better than three-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.

The driver of the No. 48 believes all the pieces are in place for him to make a legitimate run at a fourth consecutive title.

“I really think some of the best tracks over the course of the year are at the start and the end of the season,” Johnson said. “So with the Chase just showing up, I know we’ve got really good tracks ahead of us. And that helps to get on the roll that we’ve been able to do the last few years.

“We’ve shown we’ve had a lot of speed in the cars. If we can just minimize the mistakes, we’ll be in great shape.”

Greg Biffle believes the announcement this week that Richard Petty Motorsports will come to the Ford family next season will be a longterm boost to Roush Fenway Racing.

“I think it’s going to help our organization, having the depth of the Petty organization with us, or an alliance between us, and I certainly think it’s going to help Ford Racing in general,” Biffle said. “I think it’s a good thing for us.

“Obviously, they had to do something about a manufacturer and I’m glad that they chose Ford.”

Kenny Wallace made his 800th career NASCAR start in Friday night’s Virginia 529 College Savings 250.

Despite enjoying a successful career behind the wheel of a race car, Wallace admits that most fans recognize him as a television personality on Speed.

“It drives me absolutely up a wall,” Wallace said. “My mother taught me to never use the word hate. But I hate it. If I could quit TV, I would do it. But it pays too much money and it brings me too much sponsorship.

“I like to do TV. It’s fun and real easy for me, because that’s all I know is NASCAR. My brother Rusty has tried to help me out.

“He said ‘I know you don’t like being known as a TV guy. But man, when you’re on the race track everybody’s got a helmet on and nobody sees your face. And when you’re on TV, there you are.’ He helped me feel a lot better about it. I’m a hardcore racer, but TV has been really good for me.”

– Jeff Hood can be reached at jhood@racintoday.com

| , RacinToday.com Friday, September 11 2009
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