Truex bounces back, se­cures top start­ing spot

Baltimore Sun - - WORLD SERIES - By Jenna Fryer

MARTINSVILLE, VA. — Martin Truex Jr. vowed to win the re­main­ing races this sea­son once he was knocked out of the NASCAR playoffs.

A pole-win­ning run Fri­day at Martinsville Speedway was a strong step to­ward ful­fill­ing that goal.

Truex turned a lap at 98.206 mph to take the top start­ing spot in Sun­day’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500. It was the fifth pole of the sea­son for Truex, who also won the pole last week­end at Tal­ladega Su­per­speed­way. A blown en­gine in his Toy­ota led to his elim­i­na­tion in the Chase for the Sprint Cup cham­pi­onship.

He said after that that he was de­ter­mined to win the fi­nal four races of the year and took some so­lace in Fri­day’s run. Truex has never won at Martinsville. “It hurt a lot this week,” Truex said. “I thought about it ev­ery day and ev­ery night. I just kept telling my­self, ‘Go win Martinsville.’ ”

Joey Logano, win­ner of three straight poles, qual­i­fied sec­ond in a Ford. Logano won last week at Tal­ladega to ad­vance to the third round of the Chase, and was dis­ap­pointed in miss­ing out on the pole even though it’s his fifth con­sec­u­tive front-row start at Martinsville.

“So close to get­ting that fourth pole in a row — it would have been pretty cool to be able to say you did that,” Logano said. “It gives us a good start to get a good rhythm into this long race and get our car tuned up to where we want to.

“We’re not in the busi­ness of get­ting poles. We’re in the busi­ness of win­ning races.”

Logano was fol­lowed by eight-time Martinsville win­ner Jim­mie Johnson in a Chevro­let. Johnson is seek­ing his sev­enth cham­pi­onship, and has not been in this round of the playoffs since the elim­i­na­tion for­mat was in­tro­duced in 2014.

AJ All­mendinger qual­i­fied fifth, Chase El­liott was sixth and Tony Ste­wart sev­enth, as three drivers not in the Chase had strong runs.

Five of the eight re­main­ing Chase drivers qual­i­fied in­side the top 12. Joe Gibbs Rac­ing swept spots seven, eight and nine, as Carl Ed­wards, Denny Ham­lin and Kyle Busch put their Toy­otas in the top 10. Only Matt Kenseth didn’t ad­vance to the third round of qual­i­fy­ing for JGR.

Jeff Gor­don qual­i­fied 10th for what is as­sumed to be his fi­nal race. He’s in his eighth and fi­nal sched­uled race as a re­place­ment for Dale Earn­hardt Jr., who is out with a con­cus­sion. Martinsville (Va.) Speedway Sun­day, 1 p.m. TV: NBC Sports Net­work

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