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NASCAR At Michigan Qualifying: Mark Martin Claims Pure Michigan 400 Pole

The ageless wonder has done it again.

Mark Martin claimed the pole Friday at the Michigan International Speedway, touring the 2-mile track in 36.05 seconds. It is the 55th-career pole for the 53-year-old Arkansas native, matching the car number on his Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota sponsored by Atlanta-based Aaron's Sales and Leases. He'll lead the field to the green flag for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400.

Carl Edwards, clinging to his hopes of making the Chase, was second-fastest in his new Best Buy Geek Squad Ford for Roush-Fenway Racing. Jimmie Johnson, who led the practice session and therefore was the last driver to attempt a time, came up just short of the front row, turning a lap of 36.28 in his Lowe's Chevy to Edwards 36.25. Matt Kenseth was fourth in his Roush-prepared Fifth/Third Bank Fusion, while Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne - driving a new, brighter-colored paint scheme on his Farmers Insurance Impala - rounded out the top-five.

Trevor Bayne, driving the Wood Brothers' famous No. 21, was sixth-fastest, followed by Martin Truex Jr. in Waltrip's No. 56 carrying sponsorship from Atlanta-based NAPA Auto Parts. Marcos Ambrose, coming off his second-career win at Watkins Glen last week, turned the eighth fastest time in Richard Petty's No. 9 Stanley Tools Ford. Landon Cassill was ninth for BK Racing, while Paul Menard led the way for Richard Childress Racing, turning the tenth-fastest time in his family-sponsored Chevy.

June Michigan winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. was a disappointing 22nd in his No. 88 National Guard Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports. Kyle Busch, who won last year's race, was 23rd in his Joe Gibbs Racing-prepared No. 18 Interstate Batteries Camry.

Peachtree City's Reed Sorenson was 27th-fastest in Randy Humphrey's No. 91 Toyota, while Unadilla's David Ragan was ten spots worse in his No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford.

Failing to qualify for Sunday's race are Stephen Leicht and J.J. Yeley.

The session was delayed briefly by an accident in the third turn by Aric Almirola, who smacked the wall in turn three in his Petty-owned No. 43 Eckrich Ford. Almirola will start 41st. Dave Blaney nearly crashed in turn one on his qualifying lap and did not complete the run.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.