NASCAR Cup: Martin Truex Jr. claims second-straight pole
Martin Truex Jr. claims the pole for the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 28, 2016 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).
By AMANDA VINCENT
Martin Truex Jr. bounced back from being eliminated from the Chase for the Sprint Cup last weekend at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway by claiming his second-straight NASCAR Sprint Cup pole on Friday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway during qualifying for Sunday’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500. His 19.282-second/98.206 mph lap in the third and final round of qualifying Friday gave Truex his fifth pole of the season, but the first of his career at Martinsville.
“It’s not guarantee that we’ll race well on Sunday, but it’s definitely a nice advantage if you have a good race car to be able to make up stops on pit road and not have to worry about getting blocked in and all those things,” Truex said. “It’s a definite advantage and, hopefully, we can have a good car to take advantage of it.”
Joey Logano qualified second to share the front row with Truex. It marks Logano’s fifth-straight front-row start at Martinsville, including three-consecutive poles at the track, leading up to Friday’s qualifying session.
“So close to getting that fourth pole in a row,” Logano said. “It would have been pretty cool to be able to say you did that, but it’s been a great streak. Like you said, it’s five. I didn’t even know that stat, so that’s kind of nice to have. Starting up front is important here at Martinsville.”
Logano was one of two of the remaining eight drivers of the Chase to qualify in the top-five. The other was Jimmie Johnson, who qualified third. Rounding out the top-five on the starting grid was A.J. Allmendinger and Chase Elliott.
Logano was fastest in the opening round of qualifying with a fast lap of 19.259 seconds/98.323 mph. Truex was third in the first round to Logano and Tony Stewart. While Logano, Stewart and Truex postest fast laps in the opening rounds, recently eliminated Chase driver Austin Dillon and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. struggled, both spinning in round one.
“I had a lot of wheel-hop,” Stenhouse said. “It was definitely not ideal in qualifying, but you’re always pressing the issue to try to qualify better and trying to get everything out of the car that you can, and it just started wheel-hopping. As a lot of us drivers know, once it starts wheel-hopping, it’s hard to save. I down-shifted to try and keep it out of the wall as best I could, but we weren’t able to do that.”
In the second round, Truex improved a spot en route to his eventual pole, posting the second-fastest lap The fastest lap, a 19.297-second/98.129 mph lap, was posted by Elliott.
All eight remaining Chase drivers advanced beyond round one, but three of them — Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch — stalled out in round two, all posting times outside the top-12, and therefore, not advancing to the final round. Joining Logano and Johnson in the final round and in the top-12 were Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch, who qualified seventh through ninth.
Here’s the complete starting grid for Sunday’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway:
Row 1 — Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Chevrolet), Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford)
Row 2 — Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet), A.J. Allmendinger (No. 47 Chevrolet)
Row 3 — Chase Elliott (No. 24 Chevrolet), Tony Stewart (No. 14 Chevrolet)
Row 4 — Carl Edwards (No. 19 Toyota), Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota)
Row 5 — Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota), Jeff Gordon (No. 88 Chevrolet)
Row 6 — Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet), David Ragan (No. 23 Toyota)
Row 7 — Ryan Newman (No. 31 Chevrolet), Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet)
Row 8 — Ryan Blaney (No. 21 Ford), Aric Almirola (No. 43)
Row 9 — Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Toyota), Paul Menard (No. 27 Chevrolet)
Row 10 — Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford), Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Chevrolet)
Row 11 — Regan Smith (No. 7 Chevrolet), Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Chevrolet)
Row 12 — Kurt Busch (No. 41 Chevrolet), Danica Patrick (No. 10 Chevrolet)
Row 13 — Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ford), Casey Mears (No. 13 Chevrolet)
Row 14 — Matt DiBenedetto (No. 93 Toyota), Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Toyota)
Row 15 — Chris Buescher (No. 34 Ford), Michael MdDowell (No. 95 Chevrolet)
Row 16 — Trevor Bayne (No. 6 Ford), Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet)
Row 17 — Landon Cassill (No. 38 Ford), Reed Sorenson (No. 55 Chevrolet)
Row 18 — Brian Scott (No. 44 Ford), Gray Gaulding (No. 30 Chevrolet)
Row 19 — Dylan Lupton (No. 83 Toyota), Jeffrey Earnhardt (No. 32 Ford)
Row 20 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford), Michael Annett (No. 46 Chevrolet)