Veteran Mark Martin grabbed the pole award for the O'Reilly Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway, the 33rd race in the 35-event NASCAR Busch Series. The Number 6 Ameriquest Ford ran a 192.589 mph speed on Fort Worth's 1.5-mile oval to give Martin his 30th career pole and second pole of the season.
"I was smiling before we sat on the pole," said Martin. "The fans have played a big role in helping to make it so much fun..what the fans have done means more than a NEXTEL Cup Trophy."
It is Martin's first career pole at the Texas track. He won the inaugural Busch event here in 1997, then followed that with victories in 1999 and 2000.
He was somewhat concerned with his car's performance in practice runs. "We made a mock run that we were not very impressed with. We made some considerably large adjustments for qualifying and perked it up. It's a big surprise to us."
Kyle Busch, a Texas pole winner in 2004, starts on the outside pole. "It felt like burping the throttle a little bit more than holding it down was faster for us, " said Busch, who ran a 191.986 mph lap. "We did that in the second lap and it came out of it a little bit faster, so we will take it and we'll go on to the race. I think we've got a pretty good race car."
Stephen Leicht's Ford starts third after charting a lap of 191.625 mph, his best start in twenty Busch series races. "We're really excited..ever since the car came off of the trailer it's been fast. They worked hard all day long and we're actually more excited about our race-trim setup than we were about our qualifying setup," said Leicht. "To come out of there with a third; that's awesome."
2006 Busch champion Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart completed the top five.
"We drove pretty good," said Harvick. "I had my foot all the way to the floor. I'm not like the rest of these guys. They won't admit it, but maybe one or two [that they 'floor it.'] If I was not all the way down, I was close."
The driver of the 21 also had some thoughts about bumpy track conditions here at TMS. Harvick said, "I don't think there is a problem anywhere. I think they do a great job with the facility, and anytime you have a race track that has been here for awhile, you are going to get some bumps..I don't think they are any worse than they have been in the past."
Juan Pablo Montoya qualified tenth as he continues his transition from openwheel racing to NASCAR events. Montoya and his team struggled in practice and he was concerned about even qualifying.
"It was a tough day," said Montoya. "I heard guys saying they were running wide open, and I was not even close. We had a good front end but the rear was sliding around over the bumps. It was hard to keep the car behind me. Our goal today after the practice was to make the field."
Forty-eight teams attempted to qualify including another openwheel ace, Max Papis, who sits 32nd on the grid. DNQs include Justin Diercks, Robert Richardson, Jerry Robertson, Derrike Cope and Jorge Goeters.