Martin Truex Jr admitted it was an awesome feeling after securing pole position for the 51st running of the Daytona 500 during Sunday qualifying.
Truex posted a time of 47.872secs during qualifying at the wheel of the #1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet to edge out Mark Martin to top spot, with the pair being the only two drivers confirmed in their positions for the race next weekend. The remainder of the grid will be decided following the Gatorade Duel races on Thursday evening.
In posting the quickest time, Truex secured his maiden 500 pole and also took the first pole for the newly formed Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team and team owners, Teresa Earnhardt, Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates.
“It feels great,” he admitted. “I've just got to thank everybody back at the shop; Bono [Manion – crew chief] and all the guys, for their efforts over the winter. I think since July last year when our car had to stay down here and we didn't get to run it, this has been circled on our calendar. Qualifying day we felt like we had a shot at it then and they guys have worked hard and felt good about this all winter. They've felt like they've had a shot at coming down here and sitting on the front row for the 500. I'm just the lucky guy who gets to sit in that seat and drive that thing. It's pretty awesome.”
”The last few years, with the way we've qualified down here, I probably never though there would be a chance [to take pole]. But we came down here in 2004 the first time I ever came into this race track to race and sat on the pole with Bono in the Busch car, and I thought that was the coolest things I'd ever done. To be back here a few years later and sit on the pole for the Cup race, has just been amazing. I've been very fortunate to be involved and be a part of great race teams and great people and it's always a lot of fun to come to Daytona. But to sit on the pole and be the fastest guy here for a whole week is a pretty cool feeling.”
Team co-owner Chip Ganassi said he was delighted with the pole after a long winter finalising the new partnership, admitting that the qualifying result – which saw three EGR cars in the top seven on the times – was the perfect way to start Speedweeks.
“As you know, it was an interesting winter for most of us in the community and it's just rewarding to come here with a lot of hard work put in by a lot of people, bringing two companies together is a difficult task and was a painful thing for a lot of people on all sides of it,” he said. “My hat's off to these guys because there was a core group of people that never wavered, never lost focus on what they wanted to do and today, putting three cars in the top seven spots is quite a reward for that. My hat's off to all the people back in the shop and in the trenches doing the work and the guys wheeling these things around here.
"In terms of putting the companies together, I have some people around Pittsburgh in the business community, they read about the merger. They asked how long did I think it would take to merge our companies together. I said the first race is in February and they said geez, if you merge two companies that are, two $50 million companies or something, it usually takes six or eight months. I am really proud of the people. It is still a work in progress putting the two together. But the important thing is that, I think, is everyone has the right frame of mind and they are keeping it open. It is open book, it is keeping an open mind, it is listening a little more than talking, maybe. So far, it has gone better than anyone could have imagined.
"Things like today will, again, make it that much more easier."