Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mark Martin beats Earnhardt Jr for Kansas Pole

Encouraging signs of a rebound hasn't only been limited to the world market. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his #88 Chevrolet team's fortune has been changing for the better after a season-plus of struggles. As the NASCAR Sprint Cup series arrives at the Kansas Speedway for Sunday's running of the Price Chopper 400 presented by Kraft Foods, the first practice on Friday was topped by the #39 Chevrolet of Ryan Newman followed by Jimmie Johnson. Dale Earnhardt Jr could only muster 24th fastest in this session but would post a much more competitive front during qualifying later in the afternoon.

Briefly holding the top spot to the excitement of #88's legions of fans, teammate and 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup leader Mark Martin spoiled Earnhardt's chance to lead the field to green. Beating Earnhardt by nearly 9/100s of a second, Martin's #5 Carquest/Kellogg's Chevrolet sprinted around the 1.5 mile oval at an average speed of 175.758 miles per hour. Starting second, Dale Earnhardt Jr. can take solace in the fact that he'll be starting beside his respected team car for Sunday's race. Continuing on a dominant path for 2009, Hendrick Motorsports cars have claimed 6 of the top 11 spots (including Stewart/Haas Racing which receives engines and cars from Hendrick).

Finishing his season with Hendrick support before joining Penske Racing in 2010, Brad Keselowski has made the most of the limited run of the #25 Hendrick Motorsports car by qualifying third. Roush Racing's Jamie McMurray Ford Fusion becomes the first driver to remind that the competing teams lark, sandwiched between Keselowski's and Tony Stewart's Chevrolet Impalas. With Kasey Kahne in 6th place, Joe Nemechek makes a thrilling run in his own NEMCO Motorsports #87 Toyota. Nemechek is a past winner at Kansas Speedway in 2004 when he drove a Chevrolet for MB2 motorsports. After Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon, 10th place has been taken by Red Bull Racing's Scott Speed. Jimmie Johnson settles in 11th place as he sits 10 points behind Martin in the Chase standings as the third race of the ten race Chase championship. Missing the championship seems to have taken its toll on Kyle Busch and the #18 team of Joe Gibbs Racing with a flat tire causing an extended stay in the garage during last week's Dover 400 mile race. However, last season also saw Busch weaken in the chase as he led in 2008 with 8 win season through 26 races.

The green flag for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Price Chopper 400 is slated to drop at Sunday at 2PM.

Qualifying for Price Chopper 400 at Kansas Speedway

1. Mark Martin #5 Chevrolet (C)
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Chevrolet
3. Brad Keselowski #25 Chevrolet
4. Jamie Mcmurray #26 Ford
5. Tony Stewart #14 Chevrolet (C)
6. Kasey Kahne #9 Dodge (C)
7. Joe Nemechek #87 Toyota
8. Clint Bowyer #33 Chevrolet
9. Jeff Gordon #24 Chevrolet (C)
10. Scott Speed #84 Toyota

11. Jimmie Johnson #48 Chevrolet (C)
12. Brian Vickers #83 Toyota (C)
17. Carl Edwards #99 Ford (C)
18. Joey Logano #20 Toyota
22. Denny Hamlin #11 Toyota (C)
26. Bobby Labonte #71 Chevrolet

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