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Auto racing notebook: Martin takes pole at Phoenix

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By The Associated Press
Friday, March 1, 2013, 8:33 p.m.
 

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Mark Martin will be on the pole at Phoenix International Raceway for the second straight year after becoming the second-oldest pole-sitter in NASCAR history.

Martin went around PIR's mile oval at a speed of 138.075 mph on Friday to earn his 56th career pole a week after finishing third in the Daytona 500.

Martin turned 54 in January, leaving him a few months short of beating Harry Gant as the oldest driver to win a Sprint Cup pole.

Gant was 54 when he won his last pole at Bristol in 1994.

Kasey Kahne will start on the front row with Martin for Sunday's 312-mile race. Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson will take the green flag in third next to Kyle Busch.

Martin started on the pole at PIR last year before finishing ninth and won from the pole in 2009. He had a solid Daytona 500 on Sunday, starting 14th and working his way to the front to make a big move on the final lap to finish behind Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Martin hasn't won since Loudon in 2009.

Danica Patrick struggled with her car in practice and didn't get it fixed for qualifying, bobbling around turns 3 and 4. She will start 40th after becoming the first woman to win the pole and lead green-flag laps in a Sprint Cup race last week at the Daytona 500.

Patrick's positive reviews

Patrick was bummed after fading on the last lap of a historic Daytona 500.

Some kind words from owner Tony Stewart and Johnson picked up her spirits a little.

“To have somebody like Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson tell me that on some level I made good decisions out there at the very end was a really nice thing for them to say,” Patrick said from PIR on Friday.

Annett released from hospital

NASCAR driver Michael Annett was released from a hospital following surgery to repair a fractured and dislocated sternum.

His Richard Petty Motorsports team said the recovery process could take two months for the Nationwide Series driver.

Annett was injured in a crash in the series opener on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.

No ill effects for Junior after hard hit

Dale Earnhardt Jr. shook off a hard hit in last week's Nationwide Series race to start the Daytona 500 the next day.

For someone who's coming off a concussion, it was a big step.

“I was real happy I was able to pass a personal test, I guess,” Earnhardt said from PIR. “When you have concussions, sometimes they're easier to get the second, third, fourth time around, so we survived that one.”

Earnhardt made the Chase for the championship last season but finished 12th out of 12 drivers after missing the final two races because of post-concussion symptoms.

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