INDIANAPOLIS -- An early qualifying draw helped, but so did the muscle under the hood of Mark Martin's No. 5 Chevrolet.
Even though he felt he didn't get the maximum out of his qualifying lap for Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, Martin dominated Saturday's time trials with a lap of 182.054 mph. That was more than good enough for Martin's fourth pole of the season.
|3.||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||180.567|
Martin, 50, was the only driver to top 182 mph. In fact, Martin was the only driver to top 181 mph. Juan Montoya, will start beside Martin on the front row, after turning a lap at 180.803 mph at 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Driving the first car built from the ground up by crew chief Lance McGrew, Dale Earnhardt Jr. overcame a recent bout of stomach flu to qualify third at 180.567 mph. Bill Elliott (180.357 mph) was fourth, followed by David Reutimann (180.216 mph).
"It was a solid, fast lap we turned," said Martin, who won his 45th career pole, tying him with Buck Baker for 10th on the all-time list. "The car just slid a lot more than [Friday, during practice]. I got an optimum lap [Friday]. That [qualifying] lap was far from optimum.
"The car was capable of more. The track takes so long to get around. By the time I got to Turn 3, I was scared. By the time I got [through] 3, I had barely survived three corners, and that fourth corner, I just drew back a little bit."
At 50, Martin is the oldest pole winner of a major event at the Brickyard.
"I like making history," said Martin, who was the third driver to make a qualifying attempt and benefited from a cooler racing surface during a session in which the start was postponed by rain from 10:10 a.m. ET to 2 p.m.
Earnhardt said he felt much better Saturday. He is starting in the top 10 for the first time this season.
"We didn't come in 'til Friday morning, and I felt just terrible before we flew out," Earnhardt said. "And [Friday] was just a really frustrating, miserable day for me physically. It didn't really seem to bother us how we ran or what we needed to get done.
"I felt a lot better [Saturday] and a lot more confident."