Times Sports Editor
INDIANAPOLIS -- Mark Martin will become the oldest driver to ever start from the pole after posting a lap of 182.054 mph in Saturday's qualifying.
The 50-year-old driver comfortably beat out Juan Pablo Montoya, the winner of the 2000 Indianapolis 500, for the pole. Montoya posted a qualifying effort of 180.803 mph for second.
Montoya is very familiar with Indianapolis after running well in both the 500 and during a stint in Formula One. He's also holding on to a spot in the Chase for the championship. ""I think here, the way the track is, I think overtaking is really hard," Montoya said. "So we'll see. We'll do what we can, pick our winning and losing. If we have a good stop, clean track ahead of us, we'll go. If we're in traffic, be smart about it, take our time."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. fought off a stomach virus that forced the team to have Brad Keselowski waiting in the wings in case he was needed to take over in relief. However, early morning rains that pushed qualifying back also canceled the backup plan as Keselowski had to prepare for the evening's Nationwide Series race at nearby O'Reilly Raceway Park. Earnhardt Jr. however battled through his illness to post his best effort since his current crew chief, Lance McGrew, took over seven races ago.
But Saturday truly belonged to Martin, who has placed in the top-10 in nine of his 15 starts at Indianapolis and is gunning for a Sprint Cup Championship this season after winning a series best four races.
It would be a great accomplishment. It is really the number two crown jewel of stock car racing, I think," Martin said of the Brickyard 400. "But, like I've always said, you don't get to choose where you win. If you're lucky, you get to win."
Bill Elliott qualified fourth followed by David Reutimann, Brian Vickers, two-time Indianapolis winner Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne.
Those who failed to qualify include