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Martin clinches pole at Richmond

Anyone who thought that Mark Martin was set to ease himself into retirement has been given a rude awakening, by the 53-year-old rolling back time to take his second pole of 2012.
Remember Mark Martin setting a new record last month for the oldest man to start a Sprint Cup race on pole position? Well, scratch that one, it's been broken. A month and a half older, Martin is not only wiser - he's also still faster.

His qualifying lap of 21.040s (128.327 mph) was 0.006s ahead of Carl Edwards, with the younger man only able to marvel at Martin's longevity and continuing ability to set such high benchmarks at the age of 53 years, 3 months and 19 days.

Martin himself seems to be revelling in the challenge of helping his new team Michael Waltrip Racing step up to the proverbial next level, and reenergised by having opted for a less demanding 26-race partial season in 2012.

"I really want to make MWR better, said Martin. "That's more important to me than anything."

Martin was the last runner in qualifying for Saturday night's Capital City 400 Cup race having earlier topped the earlier practice 1 session on Friday afternoon. The later qualifiers typically benefit from the cooler conditions later in the day, but this time Martin was the only driver late in the session to really challenge for pole, let alone pull it off.

"I was really hoping that [crew chief Rodney Childers] would call me on the first lap and tell me to shut it down," said Martin. "I told him to tell me to shut it down if we happened to get the pole on the first lap. When he didn't, I was afraid, 'Oh, no, we're 15th-fastest. That wasn't near fast enough!

"I was very close to skinning the car up, especially off of 4 on the second lap, and that was my concern. "I was driving as hard as I can go, at the very limit of my talent, for sure. If I keep pushing the limits, I'm going to run out of talent here, one of these days!"

Fans and fellow competitors will be amazed if they ever see such a day come about, however. Meanwhile Edwards was left analysing his own earlier lap to see where he could have shaved off those six thousandths.

"We are happy, that is a good lap," he insisted. "We have a better race trim package than we do a qualifying trim package so I am excited about that."

Kevin Harvick will start from the second row of the grid alongside last weekend's polesitter AJ Allmendinger, a positive qualifying outcome for the Richard Childress Racing driver after a distinctly troubled day of practice.




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55 Aaron`s Toyota (Mark Martin) [Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Mark Martin, driver of the #55 Aaron`s Dream Machine Toyota, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Capital City 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 27, 2012 in Richmond, Va. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Mark Martin celebrates as he breaks his previous record as oldest Coors Light Pole winner at Richmond (53 years, 3 months, 19 days) on Friday at Richmond International Raceway. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS finished in 9th position Sunday, October 19, 2014 in the final Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Harvick, who was in the Chase, advances to the Eliminator 8 phase of the Chase which begins next week at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, lead a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS qualified for 39th position Saturday, October 18, 2014 for Sunday`s Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Harvick, who is in the Chase, is 3rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Sunday is the final round of the Contender 12 phase of the race. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
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Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmer’s Insurance Chevrolet SS qualified for eighth position Saturday, October 18, 2014 for Sunday`s Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Khane, who is in the Chase, is 8th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Sunday is the final round of the Contender 12 phase of the race. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS qualified for second position Saturday, October 18, 2014 for Sunday`s Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Johnson, who is in the Chase, is 11th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Sunday is the final round of the Contender 12 phase of the race. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Paul Menard, driver of the #27 Moen/Menards Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 18, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brian Vickers, driver of the #55 Aaron`s Dream Machine Toyota, celebrates with Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 18, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 11, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 11, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS finished in first place Saturday, October 11, 2014 in the Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. The win automatically advances Harvick to the Eliminator 8 round of the Chase which starts in two weeks. The Contender 12 phase of the Chase continues next week at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama.  (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS races to his win Saturday, October 11, 2014 in the Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. The win automatically advances Harvick to the Eliminator 8 round of the Chase which starts in two weeks. The Contender 12 phase of the Chase continues next week at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS celebrates with a burnout Saturday, October 11, 2014 after winning the Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. The win automatically advances Harvick to the Eliminator 8 round of the Chase which starts in two weeks. The Contender 12 phase of the Chase continues next week at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS celebrates after his win Saturday, October 11, 2014 in the Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. The win automatically advances Harvick to the Eliminator 8 round of the Chase which starts in two weeks. The Contender 12 phase of the Chase continues next week at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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