Mark Martin watched and waited as 44 other drivers made two qualifying laps around Richmond (Va.) International Raceway on Friday night, then went out and beat them all to win the pole for tonight’s Sprint Cup race.
Martin turned the second-fastest lap on his first circuit around the 0.75-mile, D-shaped oval, then nudged Carl Edwards to the outside of the front row with a lap at 128.327 mph. Edwards’ top lap at 128.290 had hung on through 17 drivers.
But the savvy Martin got Edwards’ attention right away, then claimed his 53rd career pole and fifth at Richmond.
Kevin Harvick will start third, followed by A.J. Allmendinger and Kyle Busch.
Kurt Busch wins Nationwide race
Kurt Busch blew past Kevin Harvick after the last pit stops with under 50 laps to go and held on in a side-by-side, last-lap duel with local favorite Denny Hamlin to win the Nationwide Series race at Richmond.
Driving a car owned by brother Kyle, Busch passed Harvick on the 222nd lap after the green-flag stops. Busch seemed likely to cruise to the victory, but Hamlin pulled up on his rear bumper with a few laps to go, and ducked inside him as they crossed the white line for the final lap. Busch, somehow, held off Hamlin on the outside to win by a nose.
Harvick was third, followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Sam Hornish Jr.
Power favorite for IndyCar event
Will Power believes he’s at the right place to try to improve on his dominant start to the IndyCar season.
Power has won the Sao Paulo 300 the past two years and is a favorite again this weekend on the streets of South America’s biggest city, at a track he calls one of his favorites.
Power also has won the past two races coming into Brazil, but he is expected to be heavily challenged in Sao Paulo by the drivers using Honda engines, which will get their turbochargers upgraded for the first time this season and should gain in performance. Three-time defending series champion Dario Franchitti is among those drivers.
“The competition is very tough and to have a race weekend go your way you need everything to fall in place, and obviously that doesn’t happen all the time,” Power said. “But I will give my absolute best and we will see what happens.”
Power has been the driver to beat on the 2.5-mile, 11-turn Anhembi temporary street circuit. He won from the pole position last year in a race postponed because of heavy rain, and took the inaugural Sao Paulo 300 in 2010 by passing Ryan Hunter-Reay with three laps to go.