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Mark Martin wins pole for NASCAR race in Phoenix at age 54

March 01, 2013|By Jim Peltz
  • Mark Martin stands by his car on the grid during qualifying at Phoenix International Raceway.
Mark Martin stands by his car on the grid during qualifying at Phoenix International… (Jonathan Ferrey / Associated…)

AVONDALE, Ariz. — At age 54, Mark Martin shows no sign of slowing down.

Five days after finishing third in the Daytona 500, Martin won the pole position for the next NASCAR Sprint Cup series race Sunday, at Phoenix International Raceway.

Martin, who drives the No. 55 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing, turned the fastest lap at 138.074 mph Friday on the one-mile Phoenix track for the Subway Fresh Fit 500.

He became the second-oldest winner of a Cup series pole in history. The oldest was Harry Gant, who also was 54 but a few months older than Martin when Gant won the pole in Bristol, Tenn., in 1994.

Martin praised his team and crew chief Rodney Childers, saying, "They support me and believe in me. It's an incredible team effort."

Kasey Kahne qualified second and last week's Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson was third. Among NASCAR's other big names, Jeff Gordon was fifth, Tony Stewart sixth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start 21st.

Danica Patrick, who became the first woman to win the pole in a Cup race last week at Daytona, had a much rougher time of it Friday.

Patrick qualified 40th in the 43-car field with a lap of 132.890 mph, and her lap was more than one second slower than Martin's.

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