Jeff Gordon and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports besides Dale Earnhardt Jr. hope to turn things around this weekend and they look to be off to a good start so far. Gordon grabbed his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole of the season with a time...
Jeff Gordon and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports besides Dale Earnhardt Jr. hope to turn things around this weekend and they look to be off to a good start so far. Gordon grabbed his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole of the season with a time of 19.666 (96.288 mph).
"Obviously a very exciting lap, we were fifth or sixth in practice (and) the car was tight (understeer)," expressed Gordon. "I know we always say this, but I am really, really proud and excited about what Steve Letarte (Crew Chief) and this DuPont Chevrolet team did today."
Gordon actually ran fourth in the first practice session with a time of 95.175 (95.175 mph) and was only .034 hundredths off of the fastest mark in practice. "I felt like we got beat in practice and we just never gave up on it," said Gordon. "We made some adjustments for qualifying and they were certainly all the right ones. It really allowed me to put two ends of this racetrack together that I don't know if I have ever put together here."
Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota will be on the outside of the front row for the start of tomorrows race. Hamlin clocked in with a 19.775 (95.757 mph) and was just over one tenth slower than the pole winning time. Hailing from nearly Chesterfield, Va., the Joe Gibbs Racing driver was pleased with his qualifying attempt.
"It was a good lap for us. Obviously we were really good in practice, we had some room for adjustment there," said Hamlin. "I just missed my marks on my first lap and that typically was about a tenth faster then what our second laps were." Hamlin was quickest in practice with a 19.862 (95.338 mph). "I felt that we were good but just a little driver error there and we had to kinda regroup in that second lap and pull something at least salvageable together," said Hamlin. "And that was good enough for where we ended up."
DEI's Aric Almirola stunned everyone when he grabbed a career best starting position of third. "We had a really good car in practice, our Chevrolet Impala SS was pretty good, we just weren't great," said Almirola. "We had a couple issues that we needed to work on and Tony Gibson (Crew Chief) and all the guys on this U.S. Army team fixed them. We far exceeded our expectations."
David Ragan in the No. 6 AAA Insurance Ford Fusion also put on a great run qualifying fourth with a 19.814 (95.569 mph). Ragan was also tenth quickest during the first practice session and was a tad faster in qualifying than his Roush Fenway Racing teammate.
Jamie McMurray who has been struggling all season and typically runs well at Martinsville Speedway's short oval, he qualified fifth with a 19.830 (95.492 mph). McMurray also had a solid car during race trim with a time good enough for 11th during the first practice session. McMurray needed to qualify in on time and needs a solid run this week to try and get back into the top-35 in owner points.
Some other notables for qualifying were the No. 49 of Ken Schrader qualifying seventh in the BAM Racing entry. Schrader in the No. 49 Toyota qualified seventh with a time of 19.836 (95.463 mph). It appears that with the recent addition of a big time sponsor Microsoft Small Business, BAM Racing could be on the road back to having a car make most Cup events. Schrader was 12th fastest during the first practice session.
I'm just excited about the Toyota deal and working with Bill Davis some. I've always been a big fan of Bill Davis and Dave Blaney. New name on the car with Microsoft Small Business and a new manufacturer -- we're still one of those hooligans who doesn't have their truck in here (infield), but we'll pull it in tonight," said Schrader on his first time racing a Toyota Camry.
Travis Kvapil in the still unsponsored No. 28 Yates Racing Ford continues to show the ability to compete for solid finishes and qualified 14th with a 19.920 (95.060 mph). Kvapil also looks to have a good car for the race after being eighth quick during practice.
In David Reutimann's first week in the No. 44 UPS Toyota he ran fast enough for 15th with a 19.925 (95.036 mph). Reutimann's qualifying time was much better than his best practice lap which only had him in 24th.
Michael Waltrip in the No. 55 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota also put together a good qualifying run with a time of 19.926 (95.032 mph), good enough for 16th. With Reutimann and Waltrip no longer worried about having to qualify in in on time weekly, things are looking up for Michael Waltrip Racing.
Bill Elliott in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford sponsored by Little Debbie raced his way into the show in 17th with a time of 19.943 (94.951 mph). Elliott was only 38th quick in the first practice.
Dave Blaney also got in on time by qualifying 18th in the No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota. Blaney ran a 19.959 (94.874 mph) and he was also quick in practice with a best lap good enough for sixth.
Earnhardt Jr. struggled in qualifying only putting down a 19.981 (94.770 mph), which dropped him back to 22nd position. Earnhardt Jr. was good in practice though and should be good to go for the race as his best lap in practice was good enough for fifth overall.
Sam Hornish Jr. in the No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge was the highest qualifying rookie in 26th. Hornish Jr. ran a 20.009 (94.637 mph) and it was a major pickup as Hornish Jr. struggled during practice with a time only good enough for 37th.
Mike Skinner continued to do his job getting the No. 84 Red Bull Toyota in the race in 30th. Skinner ran a 20.025 (94.562 mph) and was slightly slower than his practice time which clocked him in 19th overall.
Michael McDowell's debut for Michael Waltrip Racing is starting off on an average note. McDowell qualified 34rd with a 20.058 (94.406 mph) in the No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota. McDowell backed up his practice time which was only good enough for 33rd.
Patrick Carpentier was the last driver to get in on time with a 20.081 (94.298 mph) and he qualified his No. 10 Charter Communications Dodge 37th.
Dario Franchitti in the No. 40 Kennametal Dodge will bring the rear of the field up starting 43rd with a 20.128 (94.078 mph), slotted down two slots due to Robby Gordon and Martin Truex Jr who used owner points.
Four drivers did not make the race: No. 45 - Kyle Petty, No. 34 - John Andretti, No. 08 - Tony Raines, and No. 78 - Joe Nemechek
The Goody's Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville kicks off Sunday, March 30th, with the green flag at 2:00pm (EDT) start time.