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Mark Martin, 54, easily outduels Father Time for Phoenix pole

- rbonnell@charlotteobserver.com
Friday, Mar. 01, 2013

How did 54-year-old Mark Martin beat all those kids Friday for the pole at Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500?

“He’s not afraid to stand on the gas, for starters,’’ third-place finisher Jimmie Johnson said, in clear awe of Martin’s enduring skill.

Martin drove a lap of 138.074 mph, edging out Kasey Kahne and Johnson for the top spot. Whatever Martin’s advanced age gives away, he just might make up in wisdom: He doesn’t inflict himself on crew chief Rodney Childers’ mechanical decisions and he knows how much risk to take through the corners of one lap.

“All I think about is, ‘How do I put it right on the edge without going over?’ I know I can’t do that for a second lap,’’ Martin said.

Martin, a workout freak, says he doesn’t know whether his conditioning made a difference early in his career, but…

“There’s no doubt the longevity of my career is hugely dependent on that,’’ said Martin, who might be in his last season. “At this stage of the game, it’s pretty amazing I could be driving for a race team like this.’’

Busch to the backup: Kurt Busch got loose in his qualifying run, and the car was damaged sufficiently that he’ll go to his backup Chevrolet and will start at the back of the pack Sunday.

Pos.No.DriverCarSpeed
1.55Mark MartinToyota138.074
2.5Kasey KahneChevy137.862
3.48Jimmie JohnsonChevy137.804
4.18Kyle BuschToyota137.673
5.24Jeff GordonChevy137.164
6.14Tony StewartChevy137.143
7.29Kevin HarvickChevy137.075
8.11Denny HamlinToyota136.924
9.20Matt KensethToyota136.882
10.39Ryan NewmanChevy136.861
11.2B. KeselowskiFord136.835
12.17R. Stenhse, Jr.Ford136.731
13.15Clint BowyerToyota136.654
14.56M. Truex, Jr.Toyota136.602
15.99Carl EdwardsFord136.483
16.27Paul MenardChevy136.364
17.16Greg BiffleFord136.291
18.43Aric AlmirolaFord136.266
19.1J. McMurrayChevy135.936
20.31Jeff BurtonChevy135.890
21.88D. Earnhrdt, Jr.Chevy135.870
22.9M. AmbroseFord135.440
23.51A J AllmndngrChevy135.440
24.34David RaganFord135.267
25.78Kurt BuschChevy135.247
26.7Dave BlaneyChevy135.100
27.36J.J. YeleyChevy135.064
28.95Scott SpeedFord134.917
29.42J. P. MontoyaChevy134.821
30.93Travis KvapilToyota134.705
31.38David GillilandFord134.695
32.22Joey LoganoFord134.373
33.47Bobby LabonteToyota134.343
34.83D.ReutimannToyota133.814
35.19Mike BlissToyota133.774
36.35Josh WiseFord133.591
37.30David StremmeToyotaOwnPts
38.33Landon CassillChevyOwnPts
39.44Scott RiggsFordOwnPts
40.10Danica PatrickChevyOwnPts
41.87Joe NemechekToyotaOwnPts
42.32Ken SchraderFordOwnPts
43.13Casey MearsFordOwnPts

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