Martin top Toyota qualifier for Charlotte 500

MARK MARTIN, No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 2nd

How did you know your lap was so strong? "I knew it was flying because I went down into (turn) one and it was dragging, scrapping, smoking, I smell rubber from the tires rubbing -- it was just doing it. This is an incredibly privilege to drive for these guys, Rodney Childers (crew chief), the Aaron's Dream Machine. I want to thank Toyota for giving us such incredible horsepower -- TRD (Toyota Racing Development). I just can't believe I get to drive something like this. It's incredible."

Mark Martin, Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
Mark Martin, Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

Is this one of your strongest cars this season? "Well, we've got a little work to do to get the car as good as the car was at Michigan. I don't think anybody could touch us there -- that thing was incredible. We've got a little practice tomorrow. We'll work on it and see, but these guys with the 55 car have been in contention and almost won with all three drivers -- Michael (Waltrip), Brian Vickers and myself. They're an incredible bunch of guys and I'd love to take them to victory lane."

Were you surprised the pole was a new track record? "The weather was good, but we up the ante on every single piece of these race cars -- from the shock absorbers to the aerodynamics to the horsepower to the drag and the driveline. We continually optimize these things. When we first started running this car -- this COT -- it didn't drive very good. Today they drive better than the cars that preceded them. The guys just learn so much with the shocks and the bump stops and everything. They just keep making more horsepower and more handling, more grip, better driving and we keep going faster and faster and faster. There's things like tires and aerodynamics and horsepower, but if you don't choke us in some aspect, yes we will continue on optimum conditions like tonight -- we will continue to go faster. We always have. I have to tell one old timer's story -- we were at Dover just the other day qualifying and they qualified on the pole at 157 (mph) or something like that. The first time I went there, they were going on and on and on over the PA system about the new track record -- 144 miles per hour. We will just continue. 20 years from now if you didn't do things to pull them back, we would be going 170 at Dover."

How 'on the edge' was your qualifying lap? "For me, it's the same as it always was. I swear that before I rolled out on the race track, I question in my mind, 'Do I have it?' When I'm making that lap, it's the same as when I was 22 years old. I may feel differently before and after the lap, but during the lap it's just like when I was a kid. That's truly -- that may be one of the biggest things that I miss when I don't do this anymore. The car has everything in the world to do with it. I can't go fast without a car, so I have to give those guys credit on the 55 team. I want to point out to all you guys and you need to take note of this -- they have almost won with three different drivers. They almost won last week at Talladega. They were so close to winning with (Brian) Vickers at Bristol -- if he would have cleared Carl (Edwards) for that pass for the lead I think he would have won. We've had a couple shots to win. Give them credit. I'm so proud of them and love so much working with that organization and those people there."

Would you retire if this wasn't still fun? "Oh, absolutely. I would because I wouldn't get the performance. I'm still as fiery a competitor as I was the first time I came here in '81. In some ways, I'm better than I was in 1981 -- some ways, I'm not as good. I work with what I have just like I was the first time I came here -- I was working with what I had and now I have a set of circumstances that I work with all the passion that I have and I love racing. And if I was racing for 30th or 25th, I wouldn't be here tonight. But somehow or another, I've been blessed to be in great race cars and I've managed to be able to do what I do and there's no reason -- there's been no reason to quit based on all those factors. It's the fire. It's the desire. I will compete. When I don't drive race cars anymore, I will compete. That's a little bit why I like lifting weights. Every day I go into the gym, I'm competing against myself. It's that way. I will find a way to compete. I just -- gosh, it won't be like this."

CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 4th

How 'on the edge' was your qualifying lap? "We were cutting a pretty good clip right there. If that thing ever did decide to jump out on you -- it would be a real, real bad situation. Nonetheless, that will be somewhere in the top-15 and we will be able to race from there. It's a good starting spot for us."

Do you enjoy racing at Charlotte? "I love being here because it's so close to home -- the hometown crowd and all the people that work for us at the shop and make this all possible get to come out and watch all their hard work. This is one of the tracks that you get to see everybody from the shop at the race track. That means a lot, but aside from that my track record sucks here."

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 6th

Did you think you had a chance at the pole? "I did. When you come here and you go to qualify at night, you know you pick up a lot of speed, but you never know how much. I didn't hit my marks perfectly. I screwed up a little bit coming to the green -- I think that's what hurt me the most, but we'll have to go back at the lap and see. But, Chad (Johnston, crew chief) and the guys did a good job. This typically isn't a place where we qualify all that great and I think that will be a pretty decent lap, so all in all a pretty good day."

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 8th

How was your car in qualifying? "The car was really good. I probably missed a little bit on driving it hard enough. Really proud of the guys. They brought a good piece here. It should race good and I think we'll be alright. Other than that, I will fight them Saturday night."

JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 12th

How was your qualifying lap? "Just too loose. That was our problem. We have a fast car. Got loose into (turn) one over the rise and just messed up on my corner, so lost it all right there -- most of it -- probably a 10th and a half or so. Probably could have run an 80- something, but not sure if that would have been the pole anyway."

Source: Toyota Motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR-CUP
Article type Qualifying report
Tags bowyer, busch, charlotte, logano, martin, toyota, truex, waltrip