For the second time this year this season, and for the 51st time in his career, Mark Martin tops the field and shows us that experience and hard work can get you there.Ã‚Â This pole puts Martin in 8th on the all time poles list.Ã‚Â Not only did he set the fastest pace on the track but by doing so he beat his fellow teammates as well, a competition inside the company for bragging rights each and every week.Ã‚Â Martin paced four Hendrick cars in the top six starting spots, posting a lap of 181.367 mph (52.799 seconds) to win the pole.
“I really want to make sure that I give 100 percent of the credit to, first, the organization of Hendrick Motorsports for the incredible work that they do on restrictor-plate racing cars,” Martin said. “But also [crew chief] Lance McGrew and the GoDaddy.com team took the same parts and pieces that the three teammates had and managed to put down just a little bit quicker lap.
“It is a competition. Someone asked me [Friday] about the pole, and I said, ‘Yes, sir, we’re going for it.’ It’s a competition, too, and we try to win every single competition there is, no matter what it is. Of course, the race is a bigger, more important competition, but this is still for pride — and I’m proud of my team for the great work they have done.”
Jimmie Johnson, Ol’ Five Time, will be starting from the second position and feels that , even with last weeks wreck and subsequent 34th place finish, that he still has a chance to make it 6.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â A quick look back at the stats from 2006 will show you that a come back by anyone is possible from this point to the end, but it will all depend on team work.
“It is possible, and I’m expecting we need to do that as a race team,” Johnson said Friday at NASCAR’s biggest race track. “Fortune can come and go for any of the drivers at any of the tracks. There’s a lot of focus on this weekend’s race, but Martinsville has its things, then we go to Phoenix at some point, and we’re all not sure what to expect in Phoenix, so things will develop over the next five races. But myself and this team are looking at it that we need to be on fire at these next five to give ourselves a chance to win this thing.”
Trevor Bayne will be the only Non Chevy in the top 7 with his #21 Wood Brothers Ford starting 4th on the grid.Ã‚Â The Daytona 500 winner sounds elated to be running the car in another restrictor plate track.
“I think that shows how much work the 21 guys put into these cars, and they do a great job on the Superspeedways, and the work shows up here,” Bayne said. “It’s all about speed, and our car has it.”
Other drivers who have not had a great qualifying season have also found their way forward and will be starting closer to the front than their average starts would suggest.Ã‚Â Most notably would be Dale Earnhardt Jr starting from the 6th position beside teammate Jeff Gordon who starts in 5th.Ã‚Â Neither of these 2 have had a great average start thus far, but both have shown the ability to get to the front.Ã‚Â Hopefully their luck holds out and they can use the more forward positions to their advantage.Ã‚Â Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s massive fan base will definitely be cheering from all over the NASCAR world in hopes that this is the one where Johnson pays him back for the push to the win the last time we were racing here, and where Jr gets the monkey off his back by getting a win and breaking his winless streak.
Today’s Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega Superspeedway is the 4th and final Superspeedway of the year and the last time this year we get to watch the 2 car push running around the track.Ã‚Â NASCAR felt it necessary to clarify the rule about pushing another car around the track after last weeks showed us Austin Dillon helped teammate Kevin Harvick conserve fuel by pushing him around the track under caution.
The bottom line? A driver can push a disabled car to pit road but may not push another car to assist the driver in saving fuel, or in maintaining caution pace while saving fuel on the race track.
As always, no assistance of any kind is allowed on the final lap.
In NASCAR’s view, helping a driver save fuel by pushing his car provides a competitive advantage that may not be available to drivers without teammates. There also is the possibility that such assistance could skew the results of the Chase.
“You can still push a car that’s disabled or out of power to pit road,” NASCAR spokesperson Kerry Tharp said.
What happens when one car pushes another past the entrance to pit road?
“That’s when we would react,” Tharp said.
NASCAR also mandated changes to the cooling system and the restrictor plates in an attempt to break apart the 2 car push while still maintaining a fast paced race on the track.Ã‚Â The changes made will allow for more horsepower and should allow for more pack racing, and lowering the pressure in the cooling system so that it will over heat sooner if the cars are pushing for too long.Ã‚Â What do the drivers think about these changes?Ã‚Â Dale Jr. seems to sum up what everyone is feeling the best.
“If we are going to push each other around the race track, we are going to have to swap more often,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “… Say you are working with your partner out there, and you’ve got to change more often. That is when it is going to get crazy, because you lose a lot of speed and the guys that are not changing that are behind you come flying up on you really quick, and if they do not have a lot of room and everybody doesn’t know what is going on, bad things can happen.”
“The change in the radiator to make us change more often, I don’t really see what we are trying to accomplish there and how that can bring about any good. I think that will just put us all in difficult situations more often, because when you make a swap, it is a difficult situation for the other drivers that aren’t swapping that have to dodge you, and hope they know where you are going and what you and your teammate are trying to do, because you lose so much speed in the process of making that swap. Everyone is sort of making a lot of calculated guesses out there if that is happening more often. That is a little bit troublesome, but I don’t think it will be that big of a deal. But I just don’t know what that change was really for other than to make us swap more.”
Here is the starting lineup for the top 10 spots on the grid.
|3||33||Clint Bowyer||Chevrolet||Chevy 100 Years||181.243||52.835|
|4||21||Trevor Bayne||Ford||Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center||181.010||52.903|
|5||24||Jeff Gordon||Chevrolet||Drive to End Hunger||180.918||52.930|
|6||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||Diet Mountain Dew “Paint the 88” / National Guard||180.904||52.934|
|7||27||Paul Menard||Chevrolet||Serta / Menards||180.655||53.007|
|8||6||David Ragan||Ford||UPS My Choice||180.608||53.021|
|10||39||Ryan Newman||Chevrolet||U.S. Army||180.203||53.140|