Qualifying for the Sunday’s STP Gas Booster 500 at Martinsville Speedway had some interesting turns, and ended up with Kyle Busch sitting in the pole position, and Danica Patrick getting her best starting spot of the season at 10th in the pack.
Busch became only the sixth driver to win a pole in the first six races, taking the top spot in all six of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup races this season. Coming in at 99.674 mph, it will be his 14th career Sprint Cup pole, and his first ever at Martinsville.
The pole position comes as a result of the new knockout qualifying system, even though Joey Logano had a faster (and track record) time of 100.201 mph during the first phase of qualifying. A lucky break for the guy they call “Shrub”.
As for Danica, after coming in 29th in practice this week, Patrick’s crew chief made a few tweaks to her car which apparently were just what the oft-maligned driver needed to jump to her best starting spot since last year’s July race at Daytona.
From a USA Today report, Patrick said, “It’s significantly better than it’s been so far this year,” Patrick said. “I don’t think we started very well, but we made good improvements. When the car went into qualifying trim, it was much better. Hopefully, we can learn something from that. Tony made good changes from practice to qualifying because I was able to do what I wanted and what I asked to do better. That’s why we went faster.”
There are still many who doubt whether or not Patrick belongs in the NASCAR circuit, as even legendary driver Richard Petty has said he doesn’t believe she’ll be able to win unless she’s the only driver on the track.