Kurt Busch grabs Martinsville pole

Kurt Busch grabbed the Budweiser pole award for the Subway 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Busch toured the short track in Virginia with a lap of 96.568 mph to earn his sixth pole of the season. "It feels cool," said Busch. "Rusty always did well...

Kurt Busch grabbed the Budweiser pole award for the Subway 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Busch toured the short track in Virginia with a lap of 96.568 mph to earn his sixth pole of the season.

"It feels cool," said Busch. "Rusty always did well with the No. 2 Dodge at Martinsville. If I could hold out a candle to him here that would be really cool."

It is Busch's first career pole at Martinsville.

"This is a great day," Busch continued. "This is a Kodak moment I am not supposed to be this good at Martinsville."

Jeff Gordon, a seven-time Martinsville winner, but mired in 10th place in the Chase for the Championship, starts on the outside pole.

"I always feel good going into a race at Martinsville," said Gordon who ran a 97.377 mph lap. "And despite our recent bad fortune, it's no different this time."

Virginia favorite Denny Hamlin starts third after charting a lap of 97.187 mph, "I was very conservative," said Hamlin of his lap. "It's a great lap for the FedEx Chevrolet and we are looking forward to Sunday's race."

Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart completed the top five.

"You learn how to protect the car," said Stewart of racing at Martinsville. "You learn how to not beat it up. You learn it's a lot more fun racing when you use a lot more patience. Patience seems to be the biggest variable that can hold you up at a place like Martinsville. Needless to say, after going there a couple of times, I've learned how to be patient - out of necessity, basically."

Notably, Ward Burton making his first Nextel Cup start in nearly two years, will take the green flag from the 35th starting position. Burton is a South Boston, Virginia native and the 2002 Daytona 500 champion.

"I was really excited to get the call from Larry (McClure)," Burton commented. "I've been itching to get back into the sport the last couple months, well actually since January when testing at Daytona started. It's a great opportunity. I've been a huge fan of Chris Carrier (crew chief) for years. We started pretty much in the same background at about the same time, back in the days when we were trying to keep up with Harry Gant in the Busch cars. Larry McClure has got a great success record in the sport.

"I think we've all been through some of the same things in the past. Today we obviously got to race for Friday and that's what we're concentrating on. We'll make this race today and then tomorrow morning we'll get the race setup in it and we'll start concentrating for Sunday's event."

Fifty cars attempted to qualify for the forty three car field; failing to make the show were Hermie Sadler, Ted Christopher, Mike Bliss, Chad Chaffin, Stanton Barrett, Derrike Cope and Morgan Shepard.

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ward Burton , Derrike Cope , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Hermie Sadler , Mike Bliss , Stanton Barrett , Denny Hamlin , Ted Christopher , Harry Gant , Chris Carr