One of NASCAR’s main goals when it comes to competition is parity and it got that during Sprint Cup Series qualifying at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Friday for Sunday’s STP Gas Booster 500. All three participating manufacturers were represented in the top-three on the scoring pylon at the end of qualifying, with Jimmie Johnson taking the pole in a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Marcos Ambrose taking second in his Richard Petty Motorsports Ford and Brian Vickers qualifying third in a Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota.
“You can always say you could get more out of it, but it was a solid lap,” Ambrose said. “Our No. 9 Stanley Ford has been on a rail today. I’m just really proud to come out here strong. We had a fast car off the truck and it’s really gonna help us.”
Johnson’s qualifying time of 19.244 seconds not only secured him the pole, it also set a track qualifying record.
“We always go to the race track hoping we will have speed and be the guy to beat, but you just don’t know until you get out there and do it,” Johnson said. “I think Phoenix proves that, because it was one of our better race tracks and we just didn’t have what we needed to there. That hasn’t been the case here this weekend. The car has been very fast and I am happy to back it up and I wish I would have made it on the second lap because I feel a car that can go two laps will be faster in the second lap. Our car was a little too loose and I got all I could on the first lap and tried for a little more on the second and it didn’t happen.”
Qualifying fourth through 10th were Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman.
“Todd Gordon (crew chief) and all the guys did a good job on this Shell/Pennzoil Ford getting it better for me than what we had in practice,” Logano said. “In practice there were some things that I could have done better, but we just worked as a team and made it a little better.”
Forty-four drivers made qualifying attempts. Mike Bliss was the odd man out as the only driver who failed to make the race.
The STP Gas Booster 500 is slated to take the green flag shortly after 1 p.m. ET on Sunday. The race can be seen live on FOX.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR