Mark Martin just keeps on trucking, in more ways than one.
Hours after Martin, 47, announced that he will continue driving in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series next year on a part-time basis, he went out and captured his third pole position of the 2006 season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
"It's been a big day, that's for sure," Martin said Friday after turning in a fast lap of 182.320 mph during Discount Food Mart Qualifying at Talladega Superspeedway, placing him on the pole for the inaugural John Deere 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, set for 2:15 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7.
Roush Racing teammate David Ragan joins Martin on the front row after qualifying second with a speed of 181.770 mph. Ragan is followed in the top-10 by Bobby Hamilton Jr. (181.494 mph), points-leader Todd Bodine (180.829 mph), Johnny Benson (180.441 mph), rookie Erik Darnell (180.193 mph), Jack Sprague (180.132 mph), Bill Lester (180.058 mph), David Starr (179.834 mph) and Alabama native Rick Crawford (179.753 mph).
In nine Truck Series starts this season, Martin has four victories, seven top-fives and eight top-10s. In his lone finish outside the top-10, Martin still finished a solid 13th.
"I love driving that 6 truck, I can tell you that," Martin said. "Those things are just a lot of fun. They are more like driving the cars back before the days of the restrictor plates 25 years ago."
Martin also was excited about the prospect of racing on the recently repaved 2.66-mile tri-oval at Talladega Superspeedway.
"The things that I have seen so far, it's incredibly smooth and the grip is just unbelievable," Martin said. "It seems to be fun. ¿ I just hope that it doesn't encourage us to get wilder than before. So far, it feels more comfortable than the old surface to run all over."
Hamilton Jr. agreed.
"The way they've done the race track is just beautiful. It's smooth as glass," Hamilton Jr. said. "It will be a great race."
In addition to the inaugural John Deere 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, fans at Talladega on Saturday will also witness Discount Food Mart Qualifying for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series at 11:10 a.m. Tickets are still available to the UAW-Ford 500 event weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, which includes the Food World 250 ARCA RE/MAX Series race on Friday, the inaugural John Deere 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race on Saturday and the UAW-Ford 500, race four in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup on Sunday. Tickets may be ordered by calling 1-877- Go2-DEGA, by logging onto www.racetickets.com, and are also available for purchase on-site at the Talladega Superspeedway Ticket Office located on Speedway Boulevard at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.