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Hendrick duo claim Talladega front-row

Hendrick team mates Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson locked out the front row at Talladega Superspeedway ahead of Sunday afternoon's Good Sam Club 500 Chase race.
Jimmie Johnson rebounded from disaster last week at Charlotte to put himself on the front row at Talladega Superspeedway for Sunday's Good Sam Club 500 race, but he was pipped to pole position by his Hendrick Motorsports team mate Mark Martin.

Johnson will be hoping to repeat the form that saw him win at Talladega in April - after having also started from second position.

Martin's laptime of 52.799s on the 2.66-mile tri-oval was just two thousandths of a second faster than the reigning Cup champion who is battling to stay in contention for a sixth consecutive title in 2011 after a costly DNF last week. It's the veteran racer's 51st Cup pole position in a massive 826 starts during his career, and the third time he will have started at Talladega from pole. His most recent pole before today was at another superspeedway, Daytona, during the summer.

“Just a very fast race car and you look at where all four Hendrick cars are and we have a lot to be proud of and our qualifying efforts this year on the plate tracks have just been amazing," said Johnson. "I wish we were two hundreths of a second faster, because Mark got us by a couple of thousandths there but we will take it and just go race hard on Sunday and see where we end up.:

Clint Bowyer will line up alongside the Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne on the second row of the grid, while the third row features two Chase contenders in the form of Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr., both of whom are already too far back in the points to realistically stand much chance of winning this year's championship.

Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman were the only other Chase contenders to qualify in the top ten in ninth and ten positions respectively. Matt Kenseth will start from 11th alongside Tony Stewart in 12th, while Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch start one row back in 13th and 14th positions and Brad Keselowski will start the race from 16th place.

Of all the Chase contenders, Kyle Busch had the most miserable time of it in qualifying and could only manage 34th place on the grid, following a turbulent Friday that saw him flat-spot a tyre in second practice, which then subsequently blew out and did extensive bodywork damage to his primary race car. He then had to switch to the backup car, which meant that he needed to get back out on track before the end of practice in order to avoid the penalty of being sent to the back of the field for the start of the race on Sunday

That happened to Busch last week at Charlotte after he was forced into an engine change between qualifying and the race, but despite starting form the back he climbed back through the standings to lead the most number of laps in the race. This week, with two-car drafting very much the order of the day, he will at least be cheered by the sight of his Joe Gibbs Racing team mate and fellow Chase contender in 31st place and their other team mate Joey Logano in 35th, making it possible for them to link up from early in the race.

Geoffrey Bodine, Scott Speed and Josh Wise all failed to make the 43-car starting grid, as did TJ Bell who is racing in the #77 car which is the number that Dan Wheldon was racing at last week's race in Las Vegas. Bell had put special decals commemorating Wheldon onto the car for this week's Cup event.




Related Pictures

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Mark Martin waits to qualify for the Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. [Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, holds his daughter, Lydia Sunday, November 22, 2015 before final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Johnson and other Jeff Gordon teammates at Hendrick Motorsports wore tribute hats to honor the retiring Chevy driver prior to the start of the race. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to a second place finish, Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Harvick finishes as the runner-up in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to a second place finish, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS finishes in sixth place, and Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision finishes in twelfth place Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. This Chevrolet drivers finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th (respectively) in the Chase of the Cup Championship. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Series championship contenders Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, take part in pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race with a burnout after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race with his team after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane after winning the series championship and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, and Daniel Suarez, driver of the #18 ARRIS Toyota, lead the field on the first lap of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 21, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #33 Rheem Chevrolet, leads Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Crest Chevrolet, during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 21, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Crest Chevrolet, races to the finish line to win the NASCAR XFINITY Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 21, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Crest Chevrolet, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 21, 2015 in Homestead, Florida (Photo Credit: Jeff Curry/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Plaid Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 21, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fourth position Friday, November 20, 2015 Sunday`s final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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