In his typical down-home Arkansas fashion, Martin was humble, thanking team owner Michael Waltrip for giving him the opportunity to drive the No. 55 Toyota, and praising crew chief Rodney Childers' work in preparing the Camry.
Martin was also humorous in describing his pole-winning run, saying, "I knew I only had to make it one mile without wrecking, and I was going to drive to the limit and slightly beyond. [But] I wouldn't want to have to do that again."
There was also respect - from his front-running peers.
Johnson, who was a 5-year-old when Martin made his debut on NASCAR's top circuit in 1981, was shaking when he climbed out of the No. 48 Chevy after touring the Monster Mile at 158.263 m.p.h.
"I've still got my qualifying tremble going on," Johnson said, holding his hand out to demonstrate the tremor. "Regardless of how many times you come here, when you get a good lap, it gets your attention."
Asked if he could see himself performing competitively at Martin's age, Johnson, 36, had nothing but praise for his former teammate.
"I hate getting beat, but Mark is one heck of a wheel man. I've been able to pick his brain and understand him on many levels, [including] his passion for the sport," Johnson said.
"He's tried to retire a few times, but just can't do it . . . the fire still burns in him. Mark has worked hard on his physical condition, and if you're strong physically, it's also good for the mind."
The third starting spot went to Ryan Newman, whose No. 39 Chevrolet clocked in at 158.235 m.p.h.
"I don't think age has anything to do with the abilities of driving a race car," said Newman, who is six months shy of his 35th birthday.
"I've been trying to chase [him] down, he's got a little bit of age on me, but he's always been a great qualifier. I'm going to have to look into his dietary intake and start eating what he does before qualifying."
Nationwide series. New Jersey native Ryan Truex nearly pulled off a storybook finish to his improbable return to Dover, losing the lead to teammate and eventual winner Joey Logano with six laps to go as part of Joe Gibbs Racing's 1-2-3 sweep in the 5-hour Energy 200.
Truex, who had an emergency appendectomy May 22 and received medical clearance to race Wednesday, steered the No. 20 Toyota to the pole position Saturday morning and went on to lead 43 laps in the race. But the 20-year-old from Mayetta in Ocean County, N.J., who is running a limited schedule this season, was less concerned with his surgery and more focused on the lapped traffic that cost him his drive to victory lane.
"My stomach wasn't an issue, it never entered my mind," Truex said. "It's disappointing, frustrating. Usually I'd be ecstatic with a second-place run, but it's tough when you only have seven [races] to prove yourself."
Logano, who led a race-high 154 laps in the No. 18 Toyota, made a late charge through the field to snare his 13th career win - and first on the Monster Mile. Brian Scott took third in the No. 11 Camry to complete JGR's podium sweep.
FedEx 400 at Dover
Dover International Speedway
When: Sunday, 1 p.m.
TV/Radio: Fox29; WNPV-AM (1440)
Racecourse: 1-mile oval
Race distance: 400 miles/400 laps