CORNELIUS, N.C. – No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota driver Mark Martin is the best qualifier in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season—and he’s raced in just 12 of the season’s 19 races. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver owns three poles and an average start of 7.8—the most poles and best average of any driver. Not only does a pole give the No. 55 the top starting spot when the green flag drops, it also gives crew chief Rodney Childers the first pick of the 43 pit stalls for race day. A pit stall with an adjacent opening for easy access could shave a second or two off each pit stop. In 2012 a second saved on pit lane means several positions on the track.
MARK MARTIN: “(Crew Chief) Rodney Childers and his guys have given me the fastest cars this year and it’s a lot easier to win a pole with the fastest car. (Laughs) Seriously, qualifying has always been important. As racers any time you have a chance to compete you want to win whether it’s qualifying, practice or the race. A good starting spot enables you to gain certain advantages on race day. You get to pick the pit you want, you start up front where there is a less likelihood of trouble, and it’s a confidence builder for both the driver and team. Plus, in this day and age with all the media focused on NASCAR, that pole gives a sponsor like Aaron’s or any sponsor a lot of attention. The race is always the priority. We’ve been good in qualifying this year, but we’ve run just as well in the races. We’ve had some mechanical issues late in three races that keep the score sheet from showing how good we’ve been. But qualifying is the first step to making the race a success.”
MICHAEL WALTRIP ON MARK MARTIN: “You realize there are people who come along every now and then who are just special. Mark Martin is one of them. To win a pole at Dover you have to be about half spun out, but then you also have to have the throttle wide open while you are half spun out. It seems like something happens right in the middle of the turn that Mark does better than anyone else. He just runs through the middle so fast. He told me at Dover that he got in the gas and he had the throttle three-quarters of the way down with the back hanging out. He said he just held it three-quarters of the way down, the back stayed out there the whole time and he finally got it wide open and won the pole. What I just said sounds easy to do. Anyone can do that, right? But that was at 160 mph! There aren’t many drivers who can do that.”
Source: Michael Waltrip Racing