Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Martin Truex, Mark Martin earn the first two positions for the Sprint Cup Daytona 500

Front row at a glance

Martin Truex captured the pole, his second in Sprint Cup, for next weekend's Daytona 500 at 188.001 mph. Mark Martin (187.817) is second for his first front-row start in the 500.

Daytona 500

3:30 p.m. Sunday, Daytona International Speedway. TV: Ch. 13

Inside

Jimmie Johnson, dealing with a cut finger from an accidental knife wound last month, will tough it out for the 500. 4C

Speedweeks schedule, 4C

Martin Truex at a glance

Age: 28

Team: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing

Career wins: 1

Daytona 500 resume: 34th (2005); 16th (2006); 29th (2007); 20th (2008).

Can he win? Dale Jarrett (2000) was the last to win the Daytona 500 from the pole and starting in front is meaningless once the draft dance begins. Restrictor-plate racing is in the Earnhardt half of the EGR genetics, however, and perhaps Truex has gleaned some tricks from old buddy Dale Earnhardt Jr.

DAYTONA BEACH — Pole qualifying day was redemption day at Daytona International Speedway. The trick is stringing these kinds of days together at Daytona and beyond.

On Sunday, Martin Truex won the pole for next weekend's Daytona 500, providing a needed boost if not a turning point for a newly merged Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing team that placed three cars in the top seven. And 50-year-old Mark Martin was second-best as he begins the second full-time phase of his career with powerful Hendrick Motorsports.

"I think a lot of people put too much emphasis on the stuff that goes on during the winter," Truex said. "We felt like we did what was good for our company and what was the right thing for all of us to do. So far it feels like a step in the right direction."

Truex captured his second career pole with a lap of 188.001 mph around the 2.5-mile superspeedway in the No. 1 Chevrolet. Martin topped out at 187.817 mph in the No. 5 Chevrolet, perpetuating the recent giddiness of a 27-year veteran whose mood has often been dour as Daytona 500 wins and championships eluded him in cruel manners.

"It's just the first competition we've had of this year, and it turned out really sweet," Martin said. "I hope it's just the first of many bright days."

For Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, the qualifying session was a chance to establish a toehold after an offseason of tumult. The flagging Ganassi and Dale Earnhardt Inc. operations merged, sloughed almost 200 employees and formed a three-car lineup of Truex, Juan Pablo Montoya (fourth-fastest) and Tampa native Aric Almirola (seventh).

Ganassi said there was "a lot of pain" in the offseason.

Richie Gilmore, chief operating officer of the Earnhardt-Childress Racing Technologies engine-building consortium that supplies motors to EGR, said a Bud Shootout win Saturday by RCR's Kevin Harvick and a pole by Truex is priceless.

"It's early in the week, but so far we've got a win under our belt and it's been a good Speedweeks," he said. "We've got so much history here, and everybody looks at this race as the first race of the year and where you stack up. We haven't had any testing, so to come out of the box and have your stuff look good is a big confidence-builder for sure."

RCR and DEI have five Daytona 500 wins combined. Truex's crew chief, Kevin Manion, said the pole-winning car was a DEI leftover that Almirola raced at Talladega last season.

Only the top two locked up spots in the 500. Ryan Newman, the 2008 winner, ran third-best with the new Stewart Haas Racing. Three-time defending Sprint Cup series champion Jimmie Johnson was sixth. Zephyrhills' David Reutimann was 18th.

Former series champion and two-time 500 winner Bill Elliott followed up two chart-topping practice sessions on Saturday by putting the Wood Brothers' No. 21 Ford fifth. He failed to qualify the car for the 500 last year. He was best among the 21 cars than needed to qualify on time or in the two 150-mile qualifying races on Thursday. The fastest three of those — Elliott, Travis Kvapil (eighth) and Tony Stewart (10th) — qualified on speed Sunday, but their starting spots will be determined in the 150-mile duels. Terry Labonte secured a spot as a past series champion.

Seventeen drivers will vie for four remaining Daytona 500 spots in the qualifying races. Truex and Martin will retain their starting positions regardless of their finish in those races while the rest of the field is fluid.

Martin Truex, Mark Martin earn the first two positions for the Sprint Cup Daytona 500 02/08/09 [Last modified: Monday, February 9, 2009 7:26am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays journal: Erasmo Ramirez ready to start a day after closing game

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — RHP Erasmo Ramirez was on the mound to finish Sunday's 15-inning marathon win over the Twins and will start tonight's game against the Rangers.

    The Rays’ Erasmo Ramirez throws 12 pitches in the 15th inning against the Twins to earn the save then says after the game that he’s ready to make his scheduled start against the Rangers: “My arm feels good.”
  2. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Before the Rays eventually won Sunday's 6½-hour, 15-inning marathon against the Twins 8-6, they did plenty to lose it. And we need to get that out of the way first.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  3. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.
  4. Takuma Sato surprise winner of wreck-filled Indy 500

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he held off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mph wheel-rubbing duel to the finish.

    Scott Dixon’s car goes over the top of Jay Howard, soaring so high that Helio Castroneves drove under it while it was airborne. Stunningly, there were no serious injuries.
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Sunday's Rays-Twins game

    The Heater

    The Rays won because they got two innings of good relief from each of the two pitchers who contributed to them losing Saturday's game, Danny Farquhar (who again struck out Miguel Sano) and Tommy Hunter, who both posted zeroes.