Brooklyn, MI – The older Mark Martin gets, the faster he seems to be on the racetrack.
Martin, 53, claimed his fourth Sprint Cup Series pole of the season by winning Friday's qualifying for the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. His first of two qualifying laps around this two-mile track was clocked at 199.706 mph. It was the first time Martin has won the pole in 54 attempts at Michigan.
Martin is running a limited Sprint Cup schedule for Michael Waltrip Racing this year. This will be his 15th start of the season.
"I have to drive these things fast, because I'm trying to keep a job here," Martin jokingly said. "I didn't wreck on the first lap, so I tried to go a little harder on the second lap. There was no way. I wobbled it into (turn) one, and there was no way I was going to beat it after that.
"I'm designed and geared for one lap qualifying. I know I can never make it another lap that crazy, no matter what."
Martin now has 55 career poles, which placed him in a tie with Bill Elliott for seventh on the series' all-time pole winners list.
Carl Edwards, who is one of several drivers contending for a wild card position in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, claimed the outside pole with a lap at 198.626 mph. Edwards has yet to win a race this season and currently sits seventh in the wild card rankings.
"That was a good lap," he said. "I'm surprised how fast Mark's lap was. Our lap was pretty good, so Mark really stepped it up, and it was a great lap for him."
Jimmie Johnson qualified third, followed by Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne.
Trevor Bayne, Martin Truex Jr., Marcos Ambrose, who won last weekend's race at Watkins Glen, N.Y., Landon Cassill and Paul Menard completed the top-10.
Other notable Chase contenders and their starting positions include: Jeff Gordon (11th), Clint Bowyer (12th), Tony Stewart (14th), Ryan Newman (15th), Joey Logano (16th), Brad Keselowski (19th), Denny Hamlin (21st), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (22nd) and Kyle Busch (23rd).
Busch won at Michigan one year ago, while Earnhardt Jr. took the checkered flag here in June, snapping a four-year, 143-race winless streak in the series. He started 17th in that race.
"We ran a few laps in race trim, and the car felt pretty good, but we had a terrible practice as far as qualifying trim goes," Earnhardt Jr. said. "That (qualifying lap) was a little bit of improvement, but obviously the track has got a little bit more speed than that in it."
Stephen Leicht and J.J. Yeley failed to qualify.
When the series ran on Michigan's newly repaved surface two months ago, Ambrose posted the fastest qualifying lap at 203.241 mph, making him the fastest driver in NASCAR qualifications in 25 years. Speeds were slower in qualifying this time since track temperatures were significantly cooler.
Sunday's 400-mile race at Michigan is scheduled to start just after 1 p.m. (ET).