Date: March 27, 2015
Event: Martinsville 500 Qualifying (Round 6 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (.526-mile oval)
Pole Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (19.232 seconds at 98.461 mph)
SHR Lineup: Tony Stewart (6th, 19.428 seconds at 97.468 mph)
Danica Patrick (16th, 19.468 seconds at 97.267 mph)
Kevin Harvick (17th, 19.470 seconds at 97.257 mph)
Kurt Busch (26th, 19.533 seconds at 96.944 mph)
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Friday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway by setting the sixth-fastest lap in qualifying for Sunday’s Martinsville 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Stewart turned a lap of 19.428 seconds at 97.468 mph on the .526-mile oval in the final round of knockout qualifying.
“We’ve got a great start to the weekend here,” said Stewart, a three-time Sprint Cup winner at Martinsville (October 2000, April 2006 and October 2011). “This place is so tough, and qualifying is half the battle here. If you can just get a good pit spot and get a decent starting spot to where you don’t have to beat the car up trying to get to the front, that’s half the battle. Our Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevy is in a good spot for Sunday.”
Qualifying consisted of three rounds. The first was 20 minutes, with every driver on the track vying to set the fastest lap. The 24 fastest drivers from the first round advanced to the second, 10-minute round. The fastest 12 drivers from that session advanced to the final, five-minute round of qualifying where they battled for the pole. Positions 1-12 were set by speeds in the final round. Positions 13-24 were set by speeds in the second round. The remaining 43-car field was set by speeds posted by those who did not advance past the first round.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 TaxACT Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 16th with a time of 19.468 seconds at 97.267 mph.
“The TaxACT Chevy was just a little loose on entry and snug early center,” said Patrick, who will make her fifth Sprint Cup start at Martinsville on Sunday. “I hate that the caution came out and killed my fourth lap in the second round, but that’s out of our control. The team did a great job today and we’ve got two more practices tomorrow to get ready for Sunday.”
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 17th with a time of 19.470 seconds at 97.257 mph.
“Qualifying has never really been my strong suit at Martinsville,” said Harvick, who won at Martinsville in April 2011. “We’re okay in race trim and our Budweiser/Jimmy John's Chevrolet will be ready to go on Sunday.”
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 26th with a time of 19.533 seconds at 96.944 mph.
“The Haas Automation Chevrolet was tight on corner exit,” said Busch, who has two Sprint Cup wins at Martinsville (October 2002 and March 2014). “It was like the rear end was planted too well. We made some adjustments and went back out for a second attempt, but we weren’t able to improve and advance. We’ve got two practice sessions tomorrow to get it ready for the race on Sunday.”
Joey Logano took the pole with a lap of 19.232 seconds at 98.461 mph. It was his 10th career Sprint Cup pole, his second of the season and his first at Martinsville.
Ryan Newman will start on the outside of row one after clocking in at 19.258 seconds at 98.328 mph.
The 10 other drivers who made it to the final round of qualifying were Martin Truex Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Stewart, Kyle Larson, Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, AJ Allmendinger, Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski. All are listed in the order they’ll start Sunday’s race.
Forty-five drivers attempted to qualify for the 43-car field. Brendan Gaughan and Ron Hornaday did not make the race.