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Martin claims third Cup pole of the year

Mark Martin just won't quit. Show him a qualifying session, and he's going to seize it with both hands - and show those young whipper-snappers that there's plenty of life in the old dog yet.
Mark Martin certainly isn't easing into retirement anytime soon. With his third pole position of 2012, his lap of 22.742s (158.297mph) at his favourite track - the one-mile concrete Dover International Speedway - was enough to scare even the grand old man of NASCAR.

"I'll never do that again!" said Martin with a laugh afterwards. "I knew that I only had to make it one mile without wrecking, and I was going to drive to the limit and slightly beyond, and I felt like I did that. I wouldn't want to do that again."

The records that Mark Martin can now lay claim to are formidable: it's his 54th pole position in 840 starts, putting him eighth of all time. He's started on pole here five times (tying Rusty Wallace for the second-highest total of all time) and he's now the oldest pole winner at Dover.

Martin's time was just 0.005s ahead of the comparatively boyish Jimmie Johnson, who will join Martin on the front row of the grid for Sunday afternoon's FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

"I knew off the corner, off 2 and 4, I just couldn't get the power down, being loose, and [that] I left a little on the table," he admitted after his qualifying run. "I felt it was more like a tenth, tenth and a half that I left out there - and Mark found five thousandths."

Johnson hasn't had a pole position in the series since September 2010 - which ironically was right here at Dover - and he'd been hoping to put an end to that particular drought, but it wasn't to be.

"Qualifying's never been my strong suit, but I've been second a lot," he said. "I'll just have to take care of it and do a little better job there."

Asked if he could envisage himself putting in the sort of qualifying performances Martin's coming up with in 2012 when he himself is 53 years old, Johnson could only laugh.

"I hope that I can," he said. "I've been able to pick his brain and understand him on many levels. One, his passion for the sport; he's tried to retire a few times, but just can't do it. That fire still burns in him.




Related Pictures

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Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Madagascar Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway on June 2, 2012 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Mark Martin, driver of the #55 Aaron`s Dream Machine Toyota, signs the Coors Light Pole Board after qualifying for pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway on June 2, 2012 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
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June 03, 2012 10:56 AM

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