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Phoenix qualifying: Martin earns top spot

 

AVONDALE, Ariz. (April 18, 2009)—Mark Martin, driver of the No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg’s Impala SS, scored his third pole position of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season after taking the No. 1 starting spot for the Subway Fresh Fit 500.

Martin is joined by Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon (fourth), Jimmie Johnson (10th) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (15th) in the top 15. This marks the fifth straight Sprint Cup event and seventh time overall this season that a Hendrick Motorsports driver has started on the front row.

The green flag will drop for the 312-lap event at the one-mile desert oval at 8:30 p.m., ET on FOX.

Martin’s pole position is the 44th of his career and his first at PIR. Martin earned back-to-back poles earlier this season at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

“My first lap was fairly spot-on,” Martin said. “It wasn’t one like Atlanta or even Bristol. I think those were pull-a-rabbit out of a hat kind of thing. This was a good, solid race car, and I drove a solid lap.”

Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Impala SS, sits atop the driver standings leading in to Sunday’s race. The four-time Cup champion averages a start of 9.4 and a finish of 4.6 this season.

“I’m very pleased with the results,” Gordon said. “It didn’t really feel as good as that lap was. I typically throw away the first lap and really get after it on the second lap. And that’s worked good for me over the years, but today it didn’t.”

Johnson, winner of the past three races at Phoenix, will line up in the top-10 for the eighth straight race this season. Johnson averages a starting spot of 5.7 this season.

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