Mark Martin earns 56th career Cup pole in Subway Fresh Fit 500, Edwards wins race

Mark Martin and Kasey Kahne take the green flag at Phoenix.
Credit: Jeff Zelevansky / NASCAR via Getty Images 

Mark Martin has been racing in NASCAR's most coveted division for the last 31 years. He's competed in 856 Cup races and won 40 of them.

Martin clinched his 56th career Cup pole on this weekend with a qualifying speed of 138.074 mph and time of 26.073 seconds. He was only 0.212 mph faster than second-place qualifier Kasey Kahne. Kahne ran 137.862 mph with a time of 26.113, just 0.040 seconds slower. The numbers show how hard it is to win a pole, so to win 56 in a career is an amazing accomplishment. The only other active driver who holds more poles is Jeff Gordon.

Martin got his start on dirt tracks like many other old-school drivers. He moved from dirt to asphalt and joined the ASA series, racing against legendary drivers such as Dick Trickle and Bobby Allison and winning four championships in that division.

A few statistics: Martin earned 13 wins in his 12 years in IROC and three poles and seven wins in his five-year run in NCWTS. He scored 30 poles and 49 wins in his 23 years in the Nationwide Series.

He has driven cars and trucks on dirt and asphalt, so it comes as no surprise that Martin is a go-to guy for rookies or other drivers when they have questions about aerodynamics of a car or truck, or what is the best lane to take on a specific track. No matter the question, Martin is always willing to lend some advice.

Beginning in the late 1980s, Martin raced for the Roush Racing team. He stayed in that shop until 2006. He has had different sponsors and crew chiefs along the way but has been able to adapt to the changes to continue being successful in his career.

In 2007, Martin raced part-time with Regan Smith for Ginn Racing, which then merged with Dale Earnhardt Inc. He drove for DEI in 2008 as well. In 2009, Martin joined Hendrick Motorsports then moved to Michael Waltrip Racing in 2012. 

This weekend at Phoenix, Martin had a fast car for all three practice sessions. He was a threat to win in his No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota for the Subway Fresh Fit 500 on Sunday.

The green flag dropped for the top 10 starters: polesitter Martin and Kasey Kahne, followed by Jimmie Johnson Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, and Brad Keselowski and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

JGR drivers Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin both qualified in the top 10 but had to go to the back of the field due to engine changes. Kurt Busch also went to the rear after an accident in practice forced him to a backup car. 

The first caution came out on Lap 22 and the majority of the field came to pit road. Martin lead all of the laps before the caution and did not pit with the rest of the field. When they went back to green Martin was able to hold off Kahne to maintain the lead.

At one point, Martin came in to get right side tires when he thought he had a loose wheel, and ended up going a lap down. He got the Aaron's Lucky Dog on the third caution, then made another pit stop for left side tires.

By Lap 110, Martin had lead over half of them.The last time he lead that many laps was in 2009 at New Hampshire and he won that race.

Martin got a break when a caution came out and prevented him from having to make a green flag pit stop. The No. 55 had a four-tire pit stop and came off of pit road running 17th with Carl Edwards leading.

The sixth caution came out when Danica Patrick blew a tire, hit the safer barrier and ended up collecting David Ragan after she bounced off the outside wall. Ragan's car drove right over the side of Partrick's car, sending pieces of the blue foam from her car onto the track.

Martin was in 13th at the GWC, but ended up running out of gas, finishing 21st. He led twice for a total of 75 laps and is now sitting seventh in the points standings.

At race end, Johnson and Keselowski battled for second behind Edwards. Then Denny Hamlin went low on the apron, racing Johnson to the line. Carl Edwards was finally able to break his winless streak and took the checkers in the Subway Fresh Fit 500.

Final results: 

1.Carl Edwards
2.Jimmie Johnson
3.Denny Hamlin
4.Brad Keselowski
5.Dale Earnhardt Jr.
6.Clint Bowyer
7.Matt Kenseth
8.Tony Stewart
9.Jeff Gordon
10.Jeff Burton
11.AJ Allmendinger
12.Juan Pablo Montoya
13.Kevin Harvick
14.Casey Mears
15.Aric Almirola
16.Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
17.Greg Biffle
18.Marcos Ambrose
19.Kasey Kahne
20.Paul Menard
21.Mark Martin
22.Jamie McMurray
23.Kyle Busch
24. Bobby Labonte
25.David Reutimann
26.Joey Logano
27.Kurt Busch
28.J.J. Yeley
29.Travis Kvapil
30.David Stremme
31.Joe Nemechek
32.Landon Cassill
33.Dave Blaney
34.Ken Schrader
35.Josh Wise
36.Martin Truex Jr.
37.David Gilliland
38.David Ragan
39.Danica Patrick
40.Ryan Newman
41.Scott Speed
42.Mike Bliss
43.Scott Riggs
Mark Martin earns 56th career Cup pole in Subway Fresh Fit 500, Edwards wins race Mark Martin earns 56th career Cup pole in Subway Fresh Fit 500, Edwards wins race Reviewed by Amber Klima on Sunday, March 03, 2013 Rating: 5