It’s been two-plus years since Mark Martin drove a Sprint Cup car at Bristol Motor Speedway, but apparently old habits die hard. Martin, in a Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, edged fellow Chevy driver Ryan Newman in Friday qualifying to win the pole for Sunday afternoon’s Food City 500 at the high-banked, half-mile track in Bristol, Tenn.
It was Martin’s second pole this year (he also won two weeks ago near Atlanta), his eighth all-time at BMS and the 42nd of his Cup career.
His lap of 15.256 seconds (at 125.773 mph) was 0.004 quicker than Newman’s 15.260 seconds (125.740 mph) for Stewart-Haas Racing. Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle were the only other drivers to reach the 125 mph level under bright, sunny and somewhat chilly conditions. Nine drivers qualified in the 124 mph-range and 20 others around 123-mph. Forty-five cars showed up, and only Jeremy Mayfield and Scott Riggs missed the show.