Qualifying rainout puts Martin Truex Jr. on Martinsville pole

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Defending Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. would have preferred to earn his third straight official pole on Saturday, but with rain forcing cancellation of STP 500 qualifying at Martinsville Speedway, Truex is happy to take the result.

With the field ordered according to owner points after the rainout, Truex will start from the top spot on the grid for the third straight week in Sunday’s race (2 p.m. ET on FS1), having won poles at both ISM Raceway in Phoenix and Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

Though the Martinsville pole doesn’t count in official statistics, it does have its perks. Truex will pit his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota in the stall closest to the exit from pit road, a huge advantage in terms of potential track position.

“I would have liked to try to get three in a row, no doubt about,” said Truex, who was fastest in both Saturday practices before the rain arrived. “I think we would have had a shot at it. We’ve qualified well here in the past. I’d say that qualifying is probably the strongest thing we’ve done on average here.

“I would have liked to try, for sure, but that’s the way it goes. You can’t change the weather. I was actually really happy to get both practices in, because earlier today it looked really bad… So it was nice to get that time on the track and let everybody get their full amount of practice in and hopefully get ready for Sunday.”

Kyle Busch, whose No. 18 Toyota is second in owner points, will line up next to Truex on the front row. With temperatures at race time expected to be in the low 40s, Busch expects the track to change less from start to finish than it usually does.

“I feel the colder it is, the less rubber does go down,” Busch said. “I also think this tire is different. It did put down a little rubber today, even for as cold as it was. I feel that there will be some rubber that goes down tomorrow, but I don’t think it will be as dark as it could be, if it were warmer outside.

“We’ll keep notice on that, as far as the track changing and what things are happening to make sure we keep up with it.”

Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski will line up side-by-side on the second row in third and fourth, respectively, for the sixth points race of the season. Jimmie Johnson, whose nine wins at the track are most among active drivers, will start 18th.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Lineup – STP 500

Martinsville Speedway

Martinsville, Virginia

Saturday, March 24, 2018

1. (78) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 1.

2. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 2.

3. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 3.

4. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 4.

5. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 5.

6. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 6.

7. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 7.

8. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 8.

9. (14) Clint Bowyer, Ford, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 9.

10. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 10.

11. (41) Kurt Busch, Ford, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 11.

12. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 12.

13. (20) Erik Jones, Toyota, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 13.

14. (31) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 14.

15. (21) Paul Menard, Ford, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 15.

16. (88) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 16.

17. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 17.

18. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 18.

19. (43) Darrell Wallace Jr. #, Chevrolet, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 19.

20. (24) William Byron #, Chevrolet, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 20.

21. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 21.

22. (37) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 22.

23. (19) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 23.

24. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 24.

25. (47) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 25.

26. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 26.

27. (6) Trevor Bayne, Ford, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 27.

28. (38) David Ragan, Ford, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 28.

29. (95) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 29.

30. (51) Harrison Rhodes, Chevrolet, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 30.

31. (32) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 31.

32. (13) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 32.

33. (15) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 33.

34. (23) Gray Gaulding, Toyota, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 34.

35. (72) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 35.

36. (00) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, Charter Team – 2018 Owner Point 36.

37. (96) * DJ Kennington, Toyota, Open Team – 2018 Owner Point 38.

38. (55) * JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, Open Team – 2018 Owner Point 41.

Comments