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Kahne tops in qualifying at Martinsville

Kasey Kahne became the first repeat pole winner in the Sprint Cup Series this season after posting the quickest lap in Saturday's qualifying session for the Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

Kahne, in his first season as driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, turned a lap at 97.128 mph around the 0.526-mile paperclip-shaped track for his 24th career pole in the series. His first pole this season came earlier this month at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

"I've qualified decent at Martinsville before but never a pole, so this was a solid qualifying day," said Kahne, whose previous best qualifying run at Martinsville was second, which came in 2005.

Kahne has struggled in the early going of this season, as he sits 27th in the point standings. He has yet to record a top-10 finish in 2011.

Kevin Harvick, who won last year's spring race at Martinsville, earned the outside pole with a lap at 97.048 mph. He qualified just 0.016 seconds behind Kahne.

"It's been a great start to the season, as far as the speed in the cars in qualifying," Harvick said. "We've raced well on a lot of different types of racetracks. It's been good, and it's made our jobs a lot easier on Sunday."

Harvick will make his 400th career Sprint Cup start in Sunday's 500-lap race at Martinsville.

Denny Hamlin, who hails from nearby Chesterfield, VA, qualified third. Hamlin has won three of the last five races at Martinsville.

"A third starting spot is good for us," he said. "We really didn't show a whole lot of good qualifying speed or really front-end speed during a long run [in practice] yesterday."

Clint Bowyer took the fourth spot, while Ryan Newman placed fifth.

Brian Vickers, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon and Joey Logano completed the top-10. Vickers is driving the No. 55 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing, as Mark Martin takes his second race weekend off during his limited schedule this season.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished second to Harvick one year ago at Martinsville, qualified 14th, one spot ahead of Tony Stewart, the defending series champion and race winner at Martinsville last October.

Scott Speed, Mike Bliss and Tony Raines failed to qualify. Raines had made the starting field until his Ford failed post-qualifying inspection. His time was disallowed when officials discovered his car to be too low. That allowed J.J. Yeley to grab the final spot in the 43-car field.

Sunday's race is scheduled to start just after 1 p.m. (ET).