Harvick Claims Martinsville Pole

Martinsville, Va. – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point leader Kevin Harvick claimed the pole position for Sunday’s Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 at the Martinsville Speedway when rained washed out Friday’s qualification runs.

Rain also cancelled time trials for Saturday’s Kroger 250, the third race of the season for the Camping World Truck Series contingent.

Owner points were used to set the field for each of the two races and Harvick gained the coveted pole position for both races.

Harvick starts from the pole for the sixth time in his career and for the first time on the half-mile at Martinsville. In 17 previous races at Martinsville, Harvick’s previous best effort was a third starting spot in October, 2007 and his best finishes were three seventh places.

“If there’s ever a place where you want to be on the pole, this is the place you want to do it,” Harvick said. “For my team (Richard Childress Racing), it is great to be on the pole. We set out to do well this year, and we have been fortunate to do just that.”

Gaining the pole position gives Harvick’s Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet team the first choice on pit stalls, which the driver regards as a distinct advantage. “When you get the first pit stall, it takes a lot of headaches out of your day,” he said, allowing that pit-road mishaps are minimized with the prime slot.

Matt Kenseth will start second in the Crown Royal Ford. “I never qualify well here, so second is good,” he said. “But there’s no where to go but back from there.” His best qualifying time was 11th fastest in 2008, and his best finish was second eight years ago.

In the only Friday practice session, Harvick timed 16th fastest and Kenseth was 25th.

Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson will start third in the Lowe’s Chevrolet. “We had a lot of confidence in our race set-up, so we focused on our qualifying trim,” he said. “I wish we would have run the qualifying session, as I am a little disappointed we didn’t get to run.”

Johnson owns two pole positions at Martinsville along with six victories, including five of the last seven recent races.

Greg Biffle starts fourth in the US Census Ford.

Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Paul Menard, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer will start in rows three through six, respectively.

Bringing up the rear of the field, based on owner attempts, are Mike Bliss, Max Papis, Michael McDowell, Dave Blaney and Joe Nemechek.
Casey Mears, Terry Cook and Johnny Sauter failed to make the starting field.

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