At a track that he considers home, as well as the one to whom he owes the launching of his Cup career, Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the No. 56 Napa Auto Parts Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing, scored his first pole of the season.
[media-credit id=62 align=”alignright” width=”238″][/media-credit]This was Truex’s sixth pole in his Cup career but his second in 12 races at Dover International Speedway. Truex conquered the concrete mile for the fastest lap at a time of 22.641 seconds and a speed of 159.004 mph.
“It was a good lap,” Truex Jr. said. “I knew it was good coming off of (Turn) Four but you never know exactly what kind of time you have to run, especially today with the track being so much faster than in practice yesterday.”
Truex Jr. also affirmed his affection and affinity for the Monster Mile, which is just two hours away from Mayetta, New Jersey where he grew up.
“It’s always nice to come here to Dover,” Truex Jr. said. “I love this place.”
“I feel like I understand what it takes to get around the place,” Truex said. “It’s a really challenging and difficult race track and if you don’t like it, it’s one of those places that you’re never going to figure out.”
“I really enjoy the place and I’ve had good race cars too.”
Truex Jr. also hopes that being on the pole can catapult his team back to Victory Lane, a place where he has not been in awhile.
“I feel good we can get back there this weekend,” Truex said. “Certainly our team has done a phenomenal job the second half of the year.
“We’ve had some really strong runs lately,” Truex continued. “This is a great thing for us. It would be nice to get back to Victory Lane before the season is out.”
Truex Jr. was also proud that he was able to outrun the Chase competitors for the pole position. Having said that, however, he still lamented that he was not chasing the Cup championship this year.
“It doesn’t feel good to not be in it,” Truex Jr. said. “But this is what we come to the race track to do every weekend.”
“Today we were the best out of the cars out of the race track,” Truex continued. “If we do this next year, we will be in the Chase.”
Truex, Jr. was just 0.003 seconds ahead of second place qualifier Kurt Busch, driving the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Dodge. This was Busch’s 17th top-10 start of 2011 and his 15th in 23 races at the Monster Mile.
“This has always been a fun track to qualify on and one you have to get really amped up for,” Busch said. “It was a nice lap for us but I left a little bit on the table.”
“Sure enough Martin Truex Jr. got us by three thousandth of a second.”
Busch acknowledged that qualifying was a challenge after a night of rain led to a ‘green’ race track.
“It’s difficult,” Busch said. “I remember in years past when the track would be fresh from rain and it would be on the looser side. But when you are on the tight side at the Monster Mile, you don’t have the speed.”
Busch also said that he was not worried in the least about being the only car in the Chase to qualify in the front of the pack.
“It won’t be scary,” Busch said. “We’re qualified on the front row so you have to trust the guys around you.”
“That’s only lap one of the race,” Busch continued. “You race your own race and let it all pan out.”
“When you get to the final two pit stops, that’s when you look for the other Chase guys.”
Paul Menard, driver of the No. 27 Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevrolet, qualified in the third spot. This was Menard’s third top-10 start at Dover and his 14th in 29 races in the 2011 season to date.
“It was a good run for us,” Menard said. “Obviously, I wanted that pole.”
“I’m still shaking a little bit from the run,” Menard continued. “It takes a lot to get up on the wheel after not practicing. Starting P3 is pretty good for us.”
Carl Edwards, behind the wheel of the No. 99 Aflac Ford, and Kyle Busch, this week in the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota rounded out the top five in qualifying for the AAA 400.