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Martin clinches pole at Richmond

“We have had a terrible race car all day to be honest with you," said Harvick. "We just sat in the trailer after practice and said that what we had wasn't cutting what we needed to in the center of the corner and up off.

"So we went back to our notes from last year and were able to make some small adjustments to that and that is why you have notebooks," he continued. "It has worked out good and hopefully we can do the same for the race and make it a little bit better than what we were last year.”

Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon took the third row of the grid, with Gordon feeling pretty happy with the outcome. "It was a pretty good lap; you know the car was well-balanced," he said after his run. "You know it's just something we have been struggling with in practice and I felt like we guessed really well today."

He pointed out, "It's such a guessing game just in the track temps coming down. The track picks up so much speed so I am anxious to see where we end up."

Other notable qualifying outcomes include Kurt Busch in a strong 13th place for Phoenix Racing, his Friday night win in the Nationwide Series likely to put a spring in his step as he approaches the Saturday Cup event. "We will get beat by some of the other guys, but all-in-all we just needed to get the car to feel the four tyres and we got that so far," he said.

He'll start just ahead of Marcos Ambrose in 14th, while Brad Keselowski will start from 16th, Juan Montoya from 20th and Tony Stewart from 22nd. Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle will be disappointed to qualify in 27th and 28th respectively, however, especially as Biffle had started the day with second-fastest time behind Martin in practice 1 which meant that he was the penultimate qualifier.

"I don't know what happened there," he admitted. "I just guess we didn't have the grip we needed. I was probably just a little bit tight in the centre I guess and that was all the grip I had. It was all that I could do."

Earlier, Paul Menard had crashed at the exit of turn 4 during the first practice session and needed to take to the back-up car. Team owner Richard Childress said that a nut had fallen off the throttle of the #27 and stuck the engine wide open, leaving Menard unable to do anything to avoid the accident.

"The throttle broke," Menard confirmed. "It hung open as I was coming out onto the straightaway so my foot wasn't on the brake and I tried kicking it back even after I hit the wall. It was still hung open so I just laid on the brake and it shut off like it was supposed to."

Since the accident happened before qualifying, Menard won't incur any penalties for witching to the back-up car. "The primary was good and I am sure the back-up will be good,” he said, going on to qualify for the race in 31st position.




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