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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.




Related Pictures

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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)
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)
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)
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)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, qualifies for thirteenth position Friday, November 20, 2015 for Sunday`s Championship 4, the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Harvick will be joined by Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS and Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS to compete for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, qualifies for eleventh position Friday, November 20, 2015 for Sunday`s Championship 4, the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Truex, Jr. will be joined by Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS to compete for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fifth position Friday, November 20, 2015 for Sunday`s Championship 4, the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Gordon will be joined by Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS and Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS to compete for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. Sunday will be Gordon`s last race as a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup driver. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Pepsi Chevrolet SS, advances to the Championship 4 with his sixth place finish Sunday, November 15, 2015 in the final round of the Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase race at Phoenix International Raceway (renamed Jeff Gordon Raceway for the day to honor the four-time champion) in Avondale, Arizona. Gordon is joined with Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS  and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS to the Sprint Cup Series Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida next Sunday. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, leads Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

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