Pocono: DEI qualifying report

Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s Veteran Martin and Rookie Smith Make up Second Row of Starting Lineup for Sunday's Pocono 500 Teammates at different ends of the spectrum will start third and fourth in Sunday's race LONG POND, PA. (June 6, 2008) -- Dale...

Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s Veteran Martin and Rookie Smith Make up Second Row of Starting Lineup for Sunday's Pocono 500
Teammates at different ends of the spectrum will start third and fourth in Sunday's race

LONG POND, PA. (June 6, 2008) -- Dale Earnhardt Inc. teammates Mark Martin and Regan Smith will share the second row of Sunday's starting lineup for the Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway, after turning in strong performances during Friday's qualifying effort.

Martin, the track leader in both top-five and top-10 finishes, will make his 43rd start at the 2.5-mile tri-oval. Smith, who is tied for the rookie-of-the-year award, will make his first career start at the track. In fact, Smith's freshman qualifying effort came exactly 26 years to the day that Martin made his first Cup start at Pocono in 1982.

"I'm really proud of Regan," said Martin. "Regan has put together two really strong races in the past couple of weeks. He finished inside the top 20 at Charlotte and had a good run at Dover. We are very proud of his program and proud of him. I feel like he was my pupil last year and he is more than capable of being a full-time cup driver and competing at this level."

The fourth-place effort was Smith's career-best qualifying performance and his first top-10 qualifying result of the season. Smith is entering only his second week of working with crew chief Dan Stillman, and he and his No. 01 team have picked up momentum in recent weeks with a 21st-place finish at Dover and a 19th at Charlotte.

The 24-year old from Cato N.Y. was excited with his team's effort on Friday.

"I'm real pleased with the qualifying lap," said Smith. "The car just stuck really good. It was the same as it was in practice. I just backed my corners up a little bit and didn't overdrive it. I'm real happy for all the guys on our Principal Financial Group Chevy. They've stuck with me this year through a lot of stuff and we've had a lot of ups and a lot of downs and hopefully we're going to be on the upswing for a little while. It's cool to be in here and be the best qualified Raybestos Rookie and hopefully we can do that again Sunday.

"There's not a team out there that's gone through more than my team has right now and for them to all keep their heads up and keep positive attitudes has meant a lot to me. It's been pretty important for our team. We're starting to have fun doing this again now."

Fellow DEI teammates Paul Menard qualified 17th and Martin Truex Jr. was 25th.

-credit: dei

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Martin Truex Jr. , Paul Menard , Regan Smith