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NASCAR Phoenix Starting Lineup 2012: Mark Martin Earns Pole Position For Sunday's Race

As if anyone doubted it, the old man can still get it done.

Mark Martin, 53, won the pole position for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway, snatching the top spot away from former protegé Regan Smith with just two cars remaining in Saturday's qualifying session.

The pole came in just Martin's second race weekend with Michael Waltrip racing, for whom he will drive 25 races this season.

"Make no mistake – MWR and (crew chief) Rodney Childers have good stuff," Martin said. "They're making gains and they're making progress. ... I couldn't do it without that kind of effort, so I feel really blessed."

Martin now has almost as many poles as his age; Saturday's No. 1 spot was the 52nd of his career.

"You look at Mark Martin and it doesn't matter whose car he drives – he's going to be good in it," outside pole-sitter Tony Stewart said. "He's just one of those guys where it doesn't matter who you put him with, he's going to bring the best out of their team."

Smith ended up third behind Stewart – the last car to go in the time trials – and had to settle for what tied for his second-best career qualifying effort.

"Certainly was thinking about getting locked into the Shootout early on this year, but it wasn't meant to be today," Smith said.

Jimmie Johnson and Juan Pablo Montoya rounded out the top five, followed by Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne.

A pair of Hendrick Motorsports cars – defending race winner Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. – struggled in qualifying. Earnhardt Jr. will start 29th and Gordon will start 30th.

Rookie of the Year candidate Timmy Hill, driving the No. 37 car, was the only driver to miss the race and be sent home.

Here's the starting lineup for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway:

  1. Mark Martin
  2. Tony Stewart
  3. Regan Smith
  4. Jimmie Johnson
  5. Juan Pablo Montoya
  6. Ryan Newman
  7. Greg Biffle
  8. Kevin Harvick
  9. Joey Logano
  10. Kasey Kahne
  11. Jeff Burton
  12. Kyle Busch
  13. Denny Hamlin
  14. Marcos Ambrose
  15. AJ Allmendinger
  16. Clint Bowyer
  17. Bobby Labonte
  18. Aric Almirola
  19. Kurt Busch
  20. Paul Menard
  21. Jamie McMurray
  22. Landon Cassill
  23. Dave Blaney
  24. Carl Edwards
  25. Martin Truex Jr.
  26. Matt Kenseth
  27. Scott Riggs
  28. Brad Keselowski
  29. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  30. Jeff Gordon
  31. Casey Mears
  32. David Reutimann
  33. Josh Wise
  34. David Ragan
  35. JJ Yeley
  36. David Gilliland
  37. Michael McDowell
  38. Joe Nemechek
  39. Robby Gordon
  40. David Stremme
  41. Brendan Gaughan
  42. Travis Kvapil
  43. Mike Bliss
DNQ: Timmy Hill