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Martin's fourth pole of 2012 stuns rivals

Mark Martin continued to impress fans and fellow competitors alike, with a blistering qualifying lap leaving everyone else somewhat slack-jawed at just how the 'old man' continues to do it.
Anyone who contends that motor racing is a young man's game clearly hasn't met Mark Martin yet.

Even at 53 years of age and after more than three decades and 845 NASCAR Sprint Cup starts, the Michael Waltrip Racing driver is still finding new 'firsts' to add to his career haul - such as his first-ever pole position at Michigan International Speedway for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400, in his 54th event here.

"I have to drive these things fast, I'm trying to keep a job here!" he quipped as he stepped from the #55 car after his run, adding dryly: "So far it's going well."

Indeed it is: his lap of 36.053s (199.706mph) on the two-mile tri-oval almost two-tenths faster than that of Carl Edwards, who will share the front row with him for Sunday's noon start.

"I am surprised how fast Mark's lap was. Ours was good so Mark really stepped it up, that was a great run for him," said Edwards. "Mark pulled one our there. He was excited when he came in. I got to talk to him and he was wound up."

"I'm designed and geared for one lap qualifying," said Martin. "I didn't almost wreck the first lap, so I tried to go a little harder on the second lap and there was no way. I wobbled into one and there was no way I was going to beat it after that."

As well as the fastest car in qualifying, Martin seemed optimistic that he had the car to beat on Sunday, too. "We posted some pretty fast laps in race trim before we switched to qualifying trim today," he said. "All that bodes well, but you know me — I know how hard these things are to win and I know that not only does the fastest car not always win the race, but it just takes a whole lot.

"I believe this race team is up to the challenge of contending and winning a race somewhere along the way," he continued. "I can't know if it could possibly be this one or not. I just can't say. All I know is we're probably not going to have to take a middle of the pack race car and try to win with it."

One possible reason that Martin seems so energised this week is that he's organised a light schedule for himself over the summer, using his reduced season commitment to allow him to skip over half the races in the last two months - but then crucially, far from being rusty upon his return he's coming back faster than ever.

"I've had a few years of practice," Martin pointed out. "I don't need a whole bunch of practice - I just need a race car like what I drove today."




Related Pictures

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Mark Martin signs the Coors Light Pole board after winning the Coors Light Pole for the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Mark Martin and his No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing team celebrate their fourth Coors Light Pole of the 2012 season. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Darrell Wallace, Jr., driver of the #34 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Wendell Scott Toyota, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway on October 25, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace, Jr., driver of the #34 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Wendell Scott Toyota, poses with the Keystone Light Pole award after qualifying for pole position for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway on October 25, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, sits in his car in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 25, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet SS qualified for 33rd position after hitting the wall Friday, October 24, 2014 for Sunday`s  Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Harvick, who is in the Chase, is 2nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings.  (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS qualified for 9th position Friday, October 24, 2014 for Sunday`s  Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Newman, who is in the Chase, is 3rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS qualified for 13th position Friday, October 24, 2014 for Sunday`s  Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Gordon, who is in the Chase, is 7th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings.  (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald’s Chevrolet SS won the pole position and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS qualified for 16th position Friday, October 24, 2014 for Sunday`s  Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. McMurray, who is not in the Chase, is 19th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. This was McMurray`s 2nd Pole win this season. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald`s Chevrolet, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 24, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, climbs into his car prior to qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 24, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace, Jr., driver of the #34 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Wendell Scott Toyota, laughs before practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway on October 24, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace, Jr., driver of the #34 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Wendell Scott Toyota, leads Ben Kennedy, driver of the #31 Heater.com Chevrolet, during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway on October 24, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Door/Menards Toyota, looks on in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway on October 24, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
A view of the #34 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Wendell Scott Toyota, driven by Darrell Wallace, Jr., in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway on October 24, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ryan Blaney and Matt Crafton confer. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, talks with the media following the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finished in 5th position and Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmer`s Insurance Chevrolet SS finished in 12th position Sunday, October 19, 2014 in the final Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Newman, who was in the Chase, advances to the Eliminator 8 phase of the Chase which begins next week at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Kahne, who was also in the Chase, did not advance. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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