Veteran racer Mark Martin claimed pole position on Friday for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Capital City 400, topping qualifying at Richmond for the fifth time.
The 53-year-old fittingly claimed his 53rd career pole, edging out Carl Edwards on the tight D-shaped oval ahead of Saturday's race.
"I was very close to skinning the car up, especially off of [turn] four [on] the second lap," Martin said. "I'm driving it as hard as I can go, and at the very limits of my talent."
Edwards' top lap hung on through 17 drivers, but when Martin moved to second on the scoring tower with his first lap, Edwards paid much closer attention.
"I thought we had him, and then he shot up to the top of the scoreboard," he said.
It's Martin's fifth career pole at Richmond, and comes 31 years after his first.
"As far as I'm concerned, this is just as big a deal," he said.
It also was Michael Waltrip Racing's third pole in eight events this season.
Kevin Harvick will start third, followed by A.J. Allmendinger and Kyle Busch.
For Harvick, it came after a long day and a lot of scrambling.
"We've had a terrible race car all day to be honest with you," he said. "We just sat in the trailer afterwards and said that what we had just wasn't cutting it, so we went back to our notes from last year and were able to make some small adjustments to that.
"That's why you have notebooks. It worked out good and hopefully we can do the same for the race and make it a little bit better than what we were last year."
The second five includes Jeff Gordon, local product Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Points leader Greg Biffle will start 28th. (mtq)