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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)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS finished in third place Sunday, September 28, 2014 in the Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware. Johnson advances to the Contender 12 phase of the Chase which begins next Sunday at Kansas Speedway.  (Photo by Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Wurth Ford, races Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 28, 2014 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, leads Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 28, 2014 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, gets in his car during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 26, 2014 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, stands on pit road during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 26, 2014 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald’s Chevrolet SS qualified for fifth position Friday, September 26, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS finished in fifth place and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Designate A Driver Chevrolet SS finished in third place Sunday, September 21, 2014 in the Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Both Johnson and Harvick are in the Chase which continues in next week`s Challenger 16 race. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Belkin/Wemo Chevrolet SS finished in fourth place and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS finished in fifth place Sunday, September 21, 2014 in the Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Johnson is in the Chase which continues in next week`s Challenger 16 race. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, loses control of the car after making contact with Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 21, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Will Schneekloth/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ty Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying first for the NASCAR Nationwide Series VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS qualified for sixth position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Johnson is in the Chase which continues with the Challenger 16 for this and next week`s race. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Designate A Driver Chevrolet SS qualified for third position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Harvick is in the Chase which continues with the Challenger 16 for this and next week`s race. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Belkin/Wemo Chevrolet SS qualified for second position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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