People keep waiting for Mark Martin, 54, to slow down.
It doesn’t happen.
Martin raced to the pole position Friday for Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, putting up a speed of 138.074 miles per hour. The pole is the 56th of Martin’s long Cup career.
Martin was the only driver over the 138 mark, although he fell short of the track record set last November by Kyle Busch (138.766).
The qualifying session was the first for the new Gen-6 car at a non-restrictor plate track.
Following Martin in the top five were Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. In the second five were Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman.
Johnson, the winner of the Daytona 500, had a somewhat tense afternoon as his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet needed three trips through NASCAR’s inspection area to be approved.
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 31 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.