Elliott, meanwhile, was delighted to join Martin in defying the supposed age barrier and put his Wood Brothers Ford into the top four.
“All that kept going through my head was [the race] here a year ago and how bad we screwed up qualifying," he admitted, "It hurt so bad missing this race a year ago and being able to come back here [is great]. Len and Eddie [Wood] have really worked to give me something to drive and I've been working my butt off making sure that I have not let them down on the other side. With David Hyder and all the guys we've still got, all the guys that keep this thing going week in and week out, we've kind of meshed. Now I'm gonna give it my best shot - if a 50-year old can win, I think a few more years ain't gonna hurt a thing.”
Behind Reutimann, Brian Vickers, points leader Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Reed Sorensen and Clint Bowyer completed the top ten, with four-time Brickyard winner Jeff Gordon down in 22nd position. Veteran Terry Labonte completed the field after claiming a champions' provisional for the Carter/Simo team.
"We were off a little bit yesterday, so we had to make some pretty big changes," Gordon revealed, "I think we made some improvements, but we are still fighting it a little bit and that just wasn't our best effort that lap. So, we will just have to come from behind. The tyres are good enough to where we can maybe play around with some pit strategy. Hopefully, we can just get the car dialled in in the next practice and have a car that can drive up through the field. We certainly have our work cut out for us, but we are up for the challenge."
Qualifying didn't go as planned for Kurt Busch, as something went haywire with the front end of the #2 Dodge. Busch, currently fourth in points, couldn't keep the nose of the car close to the asphalt as it bounced around the 2.5-mile speedway, and recorded a lap that, at 175.428mph, was nearly 7mph slower than Martin's pole speed to leave him 40th overall.
“We're not sure what happened,” Busch admitted, “We'll have to let the team figure out what's wrong. It's something with the front shocks/bump-rubber combinations. I just don't know. We'll disect it and figure it out before [Sunday].”
Elliott was the only Ford to make the top ten, with twelfth-placed Greg Biffle the next best Blue Oval runner. Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth managed only 24th and 25th, with Carl Edwards a lowly 41st and calling on owners' points to make the field.
“That's bad," the Nationwide race winner commented, "We just have to work harder on our qualifying. The race car there, I just couldn't get it into the corner - on the entry, it feels like you're gonna wreck. It's really hard to get a lap and I missed the line into turn two because I turned in and felt the rear end come around just a little. I chased it up and I could never get it back down on the bottom. We'll work hard on race trim and, luckily, we have some more practice, as we were actually faster than
that in race trim yesterday. This is about the worst we've ever been [in qualifying], but maybe it's what we need right now to remind us that that's important too.”
by Reid Spencer / Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service