FORT WORTH - Earlier this year, Martin Truex Jr. got his first NASCAR Nextel Cup win. Now he has his first pole, too.
The 27-year-old Dale Earnhardt Inc. driver turned a lap of 193.105 mph Friday at Texas Motor Speedway to grab the top spot for the Dickies 500. The pole came in the 79th race of Truex's Cup career and it came in a Chevrolet that had to undergo major repairs after a crash Sunday at Atlanta.
'I've got to hand it to all the guys on this team,' Truex said. 'They rebuilt this car from last week. It's my favorite car, and it has been for a good part of the season. They made it as good as new.
'This car here, for some reason, we haven't been able to duplicate it. We've tried a few times. For some reason, we can't get a body like this one. I don't know what it is about this car. I love the feel of it, the way the seat's in it, just everything about it when I get in it. I've got a lot of confidence I can drive really hard in it, and it's fast.'
Having the car ready for this weekend hardly looked possible after Denny Hamlin bogged down on a late restart with what was later diagnosed as water in his fuel line, and Truex rammed him from behind - hard.
The crew of Truex's No. 1 Chevy never hesitated, starting to work immediately after getting the battered car back to the garage.
'I grilled out for all the guys in the coach lot after the race last Sunday night, and they were about an hour and a half late for supper,' said Truex, whose win came in June at Dover. 'Not only did they get it done in time, they did a great job.'
Even with his favorite car, Truex, who has been second in qualifying three times, was a bit surprised to finally be on the pole.
'There's been a few times when we've been second or somewhere else in the top 10 where we thought we had a great shot at the pole,' he said. 'Today, I wasn't really sure.'
His pole wasn't assured until series leader Jeff Gordon, the second to last of 48 drivers to make a qualifying attempt on the 1.5-mile oval, came up just short at 192.424.