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Martin, Gordon qualify in top 10 for Richmond

Martin, Gordon qualify in top 10 for Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. – Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon qualified inside the top 10 during Friday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying session at Richmond International Raceway, while their Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top 30.

Martin, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet, scored the fifth starting spot for Saturday night’s race. The NASCAR veteran has started fifth three times before at the .75-mile racetrack and averages a finish of 11th from that spot. His best result from lining up fifth happened in May 1996 when he also finished fifth. In 50 career Cup events at Richmond, Martin has one win, 17 top-five finishes and 27 top-10s.

Gordon will line up his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet sixth on Saturday. He has lined up sixth four times in his past 36 Cup events at Richmond and recorded his most successful result in May 2001 when he crossed the finish line second. In his career Cup events at Richmond, Gordon has earned two wins, 14 top-five finishes and 23 top-10s.

Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet, enters Saturday’s race with momentum, and he’ll line up 24th for the second time of his career at Richmond. He turned his last 24th-place starting spot there into a fourth-place finish in September 2002. This season, the No. 88 team is averaging a 10th-place finish in the first eight events of the season. In 23 Cup events at Richmond, Earnhardt has three wins, eight top-five finishes and 10 top-10s.

Johnson will start 30th in his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet for the first time of his career at Richmond. In 18 previous Cup starts, Johnson has scored three wins, five top-five finishes and six top-10s. The five-time defending Cup champion is ranked second in the driver standings going into the 400-lap event.

Saturday night’s race is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX.