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Indianapolis qualifying: Martin takes pole, Earnhardt third

INDIANAPOLIS (July 25, 2009) – Mark Martin, driver of the No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg’s Chevrolet, scored his fourth pole position of the season during Saturday’s qualifying session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Martin, who leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with four wins, became the oldest pole sitter for any major motor sports event in the Brickyard. This is the first pole for Martin at the 2.5-mile speedway. He started on the outside of the front row in 2008.

“I like making history,” Martin said with a laugh during the post-qualifying press conference. “That’s cool. You know what, yesterday was a lot of fun for me.  We struggled through race trim practice, and then we went into qualifying trim, and we made improvements.  We made three qualifying runs.  The last one was with about 10 minutes left of practice.  We went to the top of the board.  You should have seen the light in all my guys’ faces. … And then, we got to do it again today.  It feels really cool.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, joined Martin in the top three.  Earnhardt will line up third—his best starting spot so far this season—for Sunday’s Brickyard 400.

“We put up a good lap yesterday (during practice),” Earnhardt said. “So we felt like we had a good shot at qualifying in the top five.  We had a pretty early draw.  The track temp was really good for us when we went out.  We were just able to capitalize on that,

“It’s been a good weekend for us.  (Crew chief) Lance (McGrew) built a brand-new car to bring here.  He’s really excited about it, has been talking about it for the last couple weeks, about how excited he was to bring it here, looking forward to see how it would work.  Seems to be doing really good.”

Previous Brickyard 400 winners Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon will line up 16th and 22nd, respectively, on Sunday. Johnson, who led Saturday’s practice session, won in 2006 and last year. Gordon claimed the inaugural Brickyard 400 and has “kissed the bricks” four times.

Race coverage begins Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, and the green flag is scheduled to drop at 2 p.m.