Like fine cognac Mark Martin gets better with age. The 53 year-old calculated that he needed to be fastest in morning Sprint Cup practice to go out last qualify.
Then after Carl Edwards drove a great lap of 128.290mph, at the three-quarter mile Richmond International Raceway, Martin went out last and drove his Toyota a little bit better, 128.327 mph to claim his 53rd pole and 12th since he turned 50.
It took two attempts to get it done.
"Well, I tried to get it on the first lap," said Martin. "I really didn't want to run the second lap. I knew I was going to be close to wrecking and I didn't want to wreck the car and when he (Rodney Childers, crew chief) didn't call me off on the first lap, I knew that we hadn't got it.
"I thought we might be 15th, you know? I had to buckle down and try to get a little bit more that second lap."
While Edwards was happy with a good qualifying effort, in a Ford, he was a little chagrined by be being beaten by a former, and older, teammate
"Yeah, one of his team managers said, ‘Just be glad he is 53, not 35.’ It is good for us to be on the front row. If you can’t be first you better be second. It is a good starting spot for us. Man that was dramatic for me to watch him run that first lap and be that close and then watch the tracker.
"I thought we had him but he shot up to the top of the scoreboard. He has nerves of steel and did a great job. He’s got the pole," Edwards said about Martin.
Kevin Harvick was third fastest in a Chevrolet. AJ Allmendinger will start fourth in a Dodge.