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MARTIN EARNS POLE FOR RICHMOND RACE

Mark Martin's final push for a spot in NASCAR's Chase for the Championship will come from the best starting spot in the field tonight.

The veteran turned a fast lap at 126.808 mph in qualifying Friday night at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, edging Martin Truex, whose beat lap was 126.731 mph on the 0.75-mile track.

"I had the confidence in the car from practice and I knew what was riding on it, and I felt like it was worth the risk to go out there and try to get it all," Martin said.

Martin's sixth pole this season matched his career best, set in 1989, and was his fourth at RIR and 47th career.

Martin starts 10th in the standings, but just one point ahead of 11th-place Greg Biffle, 49 ahead of Matt Kenseth and 69 ahead of Brian Vickers, who is 13th.

Vickers will start sixth, and Kyle Busch, who is 37 points behind, starts eighth.

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Renault, former driver go to court

Renault took Nelson Piquet Jr. to court over race-fixing allegations that the French team said were used in an attempt to "blackmail" it into renewing the Formula One driver's contract. Renault team principal Flavio Briatore started criminal proceedings in Paris against the team's former driver and his father, Nelson, a three-time world champion, for making allegations that it ordered the Brazilian driver to crash into a wall to help the team secure a victory last year. Renault has a hearing Sept. 21, which could see the team thrown out of F1.

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Elsewhere

Kurt Busch said crew chief Pat Tryson will leave Penske Racing at the end of the season. ... Denny Hamlin was on the pole for Friday's Nationwide race with a lap of 124.384 mph at Richmond International Raceway. The Virginia 250 was not over at press time.

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Stewart wins again on his own track

It's quickly becoming homefield advantage. Sprint Cup leader Tony Stewart took only 13 laps to vault from sixth place to first, then pulled away to win the Prelude to a Dream dirt-track race Wednesday night at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. It was the second year in a row that Stewart won the charity race on the track he owns and the third time in the race's five years. Does his familiarity with the track give him an edge? "There's no doubt about it," he said.

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Car stolen from Hamlin's house found

Police in Charlotte, N.C., have recovered a luxury car stolen from NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin's driveway. The 2008 Lexus LS was found last week, a day after surveillance video of the theft aired. Security cameras at Hamlin's house caught two men walking up the drive Aug.18 and leaving in the $50,000 car, owned by Toyota Motorsales. Police records show Tomaceeta Hampton was arrested Sept. 5 and released on $15,000 bond.

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