Richmond, VA – At 53 years of age, Mark Martin hasn't lost his winning touch.
Martin edged Carl Edwards by just 0.006 seconds in Sprint Cup Series qualifying to win the pole for Saturday night's Capital City 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Martin was the fastest overall in Friday's practice sessions and therefore the last driver who made his qualifying attempt in the 45-car field.
Driving a partial Sprint Cup schedule in Michael Waltrip Racing's No. 55 Toyota, Martin joined Kasey Kahne as the only repeat pole winners so far this year. Martin's first pole of the season came in March at Phoenix.
Ironically, Kahne replaced Martin in Hendrick Motorsports' No. 5 Chevrolet at the conclusion of the 2011 season.
Martin claimed his 53rd career Sprint Cup pole with a lap at 128.327 mph.
"I just love driving the Aaron's Toyota, working with everybody at MWR," said Martin, who won the pole at Richmond for the fifth time in 53 races. "They believe in me, and we're having so much fun. That was a good lap. I didn't think I could get the pole."
Edwards was the 27th driver in the qualifying order. He turned a lap at 128.290 mph.
"That was a good lap," Edwards said. "We got a better race-trim package than our qualifying trim."
Kevin Harvick qualified third, followed by A.J. Allmendinger, who won the pole for last weekend's race at Kansas.
Kyle Busch took the fifth position. Busch has won the spring race at Richmond the past three years. He has not scored a victory in a Sprint Cup points- paying event since last August at Michigan (21 races ago).
"I'm happy to be back at Richmond," Busch said. "It's one of our best places. I'm excited to be back here and try to get something going this year."
Jeff Gordon, Virginia-native Denny Hamlin, who won the 400-mile race at Kansas, Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. completed the top-10.
Jimmie Johnson qualified 27th, one spot ahead of Greg Biffle, who is the current points leader. Biffle holds a 15-point advantage over Truex. Matt Kenseth is 17 points behind, and Earnhardt Jr. trails by 21 markers.
Kenseth will start 24th.
Scott Riggs and J.J. Yeley failed to qualify.
The 400-lap race at Richmond is scheduled to start just after 7:30 p.m. (ET).