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Qualifying rainout puts Johnson, Martin on front row

Rain at Talladega hands pole for the AMP Energy 500 to defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson
If Clint Eastwood had been at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday to ask Mark Martin his iconic movie question, "Do I feel lucky?" Martin's answer would have been an emphatic affirmative.

With the qualifying session for Sunday's AMP Energy 500 cancelled because of rain, Martin will start on the outside of the front row beside NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader and Hendrick Motorsports team-mate Jimmie Johnson.

NASCAR's qualifying rainout rules stipulate that the top 35 positions are set according to owner-points rank. Consequently, the twelve drivers in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will start from the top twelve spots, with the exception of Kasey Kahne, who will drop to the rear of the field in his #9 Dodge because of an engine change.

"This is the most relaxed I've been going into Talladega in the last ten years," said Martin, whose crash five laps into the April race at the 2.66-mile restrictor-plate superspeedway is emblematic of the struggles he's had there. "I just really feel good. I feel like this is going to be our lucky day."

Martin, who trails Johnson by 118 points in the Chase standings, said his car was "just average with the field" during Friday's practice and blamed himself for totalling two superspeedway cars in his last three plate races.

"We'll go out here tomorrow and race and hope that we can keep it in the front half, but my experience says that you're going to cycle throughout the field,” he said. “The one thing I don't see me doing is riding in the back. I'm going to race tomorrow (Sunday) - and I've told everybody this - I'm going to race tomorrow like there's no way that I can be in a wreck - and I feel lucky."

Behind Johnson on the front row, Jeff Gordon completes the Hendrick trifecta in the third starting position. Tony Stewart rolls off fourth, followed by Juan Pablo Montoya, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards.

With 44 entries for 43 starting spots, Regan Smith's #78 Chevrolet would have missed the race based on fewest number of qualifying attempts this season, but on Saturday, Front Row Motorsports withdrew the #37 Dodge driven by Tony Raines, and Smith inherited the 43rd position on the grid.

Smith was on the losing end of a NASCAR ruling in last fall's Talladega race, when he was dropped from first to 18th at the finish for a last-lap pass below the yellow line that separates the racing surface from the apron.

Tony Stewart, who crossed the finish line second, was declared the winner of the event.

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News



Related Pictures

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Third-fastest in final practice, Jimmie Johnson drives the No. 48 Lowe`s Chevrolet as he prepares for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday in Talladega, Ala. (Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Subway Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Patriotic Chevrolet, is involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 DeWalt Toyota, and Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, lead the field through the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 DeWalt Toyota, leads the field through the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, lead the field into turn one during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Subway Toyota, wins the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Subway Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Subway Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Subway Toyota, places the winner`s decal on his car after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, finished in ninth place, Sunday, May 24, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS, stops in his pit on his way to a sixth place finish, Sunday, May 24, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex, Jr, driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, stops in his pit on his way to a fifth place finish, Sunday, May 24, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finished in third place, Sunday, May 24, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #33 Rheem Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Hisense 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 23, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #33 Rheem Chevrolet, and Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #6 Cheez-It Ford, lead the field past the green flag to start the NASCAR XFINITY Series Hisense 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 23, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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