The 52-year-old turned in a 52.799-second lap to win his second pole of 2011 and third at Talladega Superspeedway.
Martin gave the credit to his crew following the qualifying race.
“It’s all about the guys, you know,” Martin said. “Back in the day if you were the fastest car, you had a big advantage come race time. But it doesn’t make that much difference now. We intend to try to win every competition we have and today is a small competition. We are giving it our best shot.”
Martin now has 51 career poles in 826 races.
Jimmie Johnson finished second, Jeff Gordon fifth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. sixth for Hendrick Motorsports. All four drivers had been to Victory Lane at Talladega Superspeedway in the past.
Martin has won twice at Talladega, most recently in 2007. Johnson, who won the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega in April, finished right behind Martin in qualifying on Saturday with a 52.801 time.
Johnson has won the past five Sprint Cup championships and needs a good performance in today’s Good Sam Club 500 to defend his title. He is currently eighth in the standings after crashing and finishing 34th at Charlotte last week.
“We need points based off the way we finished up in Charlotte,” Johnson said. “There are still five races left in this Chase. A lot still can happen and I know what my team and myself is capable of and we’re going to go out there and work of every point we can get.”
Gordon won the pole the last time he was at Talladega, and paired up with Martin in a two-car tandem. The two expect to team up again today.
“I’m fortunate,” Gordon said. “I’ve got a teammate in Mark Martin who is a great drafting partner. He’s as committed as I am to working together and we work well together on the radio and talking through stuff and knowing what we’ve got to do. I like his experience and his talent so unless something happens to him — at that point everybody is teamed up together so if you lose your guy then basically you just go to the next available option.”
Earnhardt Jr. pushed Johnson to victory at the Aaron’s 499.
“There comes a certain point in the race where you get an idea of how things are more effective by whoever is pushing or leading,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “For whatever reason, we are faster and do better and we are more successful in passing cars, staying in the pack, staying in the heat, doing what we need to do with me pushing and him leading.”
When Johnson won in April he said after the race he “owed one” to Junior, and it remains to be seen how that will play out. Nevertheless, Johnson appears to be developing a lighthearted relationship with Earnhardt Jr., a fan favorite.
“We’re having a great time and he’s a ton of fun to work with and he had all of us laughing a lot yesterday,” Johnson said. “So I’m looking forward to it, it will be a lot of fun.”
Today’s Good Sam Club 500 is scheduled to begin at noon. If the qualifying race is any indication, Hendrick Motorsports is sure to be in the mix.
Contact Wesley Sinor at firstname.lastname@example.org.