Martin Stays Hot In Desert And Paces Happy HourBy Ryan O`Hara
After earning the pole position for the Subway Fresh Fit 500, Mark Martin paced both the morning and afternoon practice sessions today to make him the favorite to win the race on Sunday.
Martin only seven laps in happy hour, but the 7th and final lap was his fastest of the session. Once again, he would be followed by the #18 of Kyle Busch who will start from the pole for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Dollar General 200. Martin’s top speed of 134.248 mph, was followed by Busch’s 133.904 mph.
Defending series champion Brad Keselowski was third fastest, and the rest of the top-5 was rounded out by Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer. Bowyer was the quickest in practice before being overtaken by Martin and Busch. Edwards thinks he has an excellent chance to win this race. He dominated the fall event back in 2010 and had the car to beat in this very event two years ago, but was caught up in an early accident that was triggered by Kyle Busch and collected eventual race-winner Jeff Gordon. I expect Edwards to be in the hunt at the end, but he will not win this race.
Kasey Kahne will start on the outside of the front row tomorrow and he was 8th quickest in this session, but the biggest news coming out of Happy Hour has to be the problems for Joe Gibbs Racing. Another engine setback has occurred here in Phoenix. Denny Hamlin will be forced to start at the rear of the field tomorrow after undergoing an engine change. He was 15th on the board at the end of the session, but none of it will matter as he will be starting last.
Daytona 500 champion Jimmie Johnson was 14th quickest. Danica Patrick ran into more trouble as she bumped the wall hard and ran the 34th quickest time, but we have not received news if the 10 will go to a backup or not.
Practice Speeds – Practice 3
Race 2 of 36
SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500, Phoenix Int’l Raceway