Sunday, March 4, 2012

Phoenix Rises in Qualifying: Mark Martin on Pole for Subway Fast Fit 500

Photo Credit:Tyler Barrick/Getty Images for NASCAR

With NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers and crews receiving less than 4 days of time to decompress from the marathon event that was the 2012 Daytona 500, the Phoenix International Raceway approached as the second weekend on the auto racing series' schedule. Placing the first practice laps on the new 1-mile oval's surface Friday, the NASCAR Sprint Cup teams ready for their first non-restrictor plate event.

Early preparations for Sunday's Subway Fast Fit 500 in two Friday practice sessions indicated the Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota Camry were quick studies on the recently-laid Phoenix asphalt. In the first practice, Mark Martin in the #55 Aarons Toyota was second-quick behind Tony Stewart's #14 Chevrolet. In final practice it was the Michael Waltrip Racing cars driven by Martin Truex Jr and Clint Bowyer at the top of the speed charts.

During Saturday qualifying, Mark Martin justified Michael Waltrip Racing's strong practice session performances outrunning the then-pole sitting #78 Chevrolet of Regan Smith. Martin's lap time of 26.313 seconds and top average qualifying speed of 136.815 miles per hour was enough to repel the attack of Tony Stewart. Accepting the Coors Light Pole Award for the 52nd time in his NASCAR Sprint cup career, Mark Martin holds 2 wins in the series at Phoenix International Raceway. In Martin's pole at Phoenix in 2009, he led 157 laps to win for Hendrick Motorsports.

With Toyota taking its first pole of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, it was a fleet of Chevrolet Impala that took spots 2nd through 6th for Sunday's race. Tony Stewart, Regan Smith, Jimmie Johnson, Juan Pablo Montoya and Ryan Newman are the members of the Bowtie Brigade wanting to claim Chevrolet first win at the Phoenix International Raceway since early 2010. The April 2010 win by Ryan Newman was the last of 10 consecutive victories for Chevy at the 1-mile Phoenix oval.

Rounding out the top-10 in qualifying is Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne. The surprise winner of the fall Phoenix event for the now-sold Red Bull Racing team, Kahne was one of many drivers that dealt with uneasy travelling through the turn 3-4 complex in qualifying for the Subway Fast Fit 500. In order to salvage a 15th place starting position after qualifying after a slip in turn 3, the #15 Toyota piloted by Clint Bowyer would turn around on track and abandoned his first lap for better momentum in the second lap.

A short 312-lap event around the 1-mile desert oval track, the Subway Fast Fit 500 is set to start at 3 PM Eastern time.


2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup
Phoenix International Raceway
Subway Fast Fit 500
Qualifying Results

  1. 55 Mark Martin Aaron's Toyota
  2. 14 Tony Stewart Office Depot / Mobil 1 Chevrolet
  3. 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row / Farm American Chevrolet
  4. 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's / Kobalt Tools Chevrolet
  5. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
  6. 39 Ryan Newman WIX Filters Chevrolet
  7. 16 Greg Biffle Ford
  8. 29 Kevin Harvick Rheem Chevrolet
  9. 20 Joey Logano The Home Depot Toyota
  10. 5 Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance Chevrolet
  11. 31 Jeff Burton Wheaties Chevrolet
  12. 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Brown Toyota
  13. 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Office Toyota
  14. 9 Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford
  15. 22 AJ Allmendinger Shell Pennzoil Dodge
  16. 15 Clint Bowyer 5-hour Energy Toyota
  17. 47 Bobby Labonte Kingsford / Scotts Toyota
  18. 43 Aric Almirola Smithfield / Allez Cuisine Ford
  19. 51 Kurt Busch Phoenix Construction Services Chevrolet
  20. 27 Paul Menard Menards / Tarkett Chevrolet
  21. 1 Jamie McMurray Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats Chevrolet
  22. 83 Landon Cassill Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota
  23. 36 Dave Blaney Ollie's Bargain Outlet Chevrolet
  24. 99 Carl Edwards SUBWAY Ford
  25. 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Filters Toyota
  26. 17 Matt Kenseth Best Buy Ford
  27. 23 Scott Riggs North Texas Pipe Chevrolet
  28. 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Dodge
  29. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard / Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet
  30. 24 Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet
  31. 13 Casey Mears GEICO Ford
  32. 10 David Reutimann Accell Construction Chevrolet
  33. 26 Josh Wise Morristown Drivers Service Ford
  34. 34 David Ragan Barrett-Jackson Ford
  35. 49 JJ Yeley America Israel Racing Toyota
  36. 38 David Gilliland Rick Santorum for President Ford
  37. 98 Michael McDowell Curb Records Ford
  38. 87 Joe Nemechek AM/FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves Toyota
  39. 7 Robby Gordon SPEED Energy / Bashas' Dodge
  40. 33 Brendan Gaughan South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet
  41. 93 Travis Kvapil Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota
  42. 32 Mike Bliss Southern Pride Trucking / U.S. Chrome Ford
  43. 30 David Stremme Inception Motorsports Toyota

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