Jimmie Johnson knew he had a fast car the minute he pulled it onto the track at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.The seven-time winner on NASCAR’s shortest, trickiest track backed it up in qualifying with a track record.Johnson made his fastest lap around the 0.526-mile oval at 98.400 mph Friday, leading a parade of six drivers who broke Tony Stewart’s track record speed of 98.083 mph. It is Johnson’s 30th career pole, and third in 23 starts at Martinsville.“That’s the icing on the cake,” Johnson said when told of the record. “That makes the day even better yet. Track records are hard to come by, so I’m very proud of that and happy to have that.”Once he figured out how fast his car was, Johnson said, “I just needed to do my job and not mess up.”The pole position is coveted at Martinsville as much as anywhere because pit road is tight, and the spot at the front of pit road gives the driver unencumbered access to the track. It is essentially the automatic stall selection of the pole sitter.“If you get behind or if you’re off-strategy or if you have any reason that leads you to lose track position, that pit stall is worth three to five positions on the race track,” Johnson said. “It’s a big, big advantage from that perspective.”Five other drivers also eclipsed Stewart’s mark on a cooling, later afternoon surface, led by Marcos Ambrose at 98.364.Ambrose arrived 23rd in points after five races, and hopes the strong showing turns into momentum.“Yeah, it can turn us around, no doubt,” Ambrose said. “We proved today that if we get our stuff right we can do it. We’ve just got to get some momentum and get some confidence back. Our little team is a tough team, but we’ve been knocked around pretty good. It’s like we’ve gone nine rounds with Mike Tyson, but we’re coming back strong here.”He was followed by Brian Vickers, Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon.The race is one of nine Vickers will run for Michael Waltrip Racing in a job share with Mark Martin and Waltrip.“It was two spots not good enough, but it was good,” Vickers said.Stewart, whose team has struggled through the first five races of the season, qualified 26th and Danica Patrick, a rookie driving one of his cars, qualified 32nd in her first career appearance at the shortest track run in NASCAR’s premier series.Points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified 17th.Elsewhere• IndyCar: Helio Castroneves paced the first day of IndyCar practice at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., setting the stage for what could be more domination by Penske Racing.Castroneves ran a 1:08.5540 around the 17-turn, 2.38-mile permanent road course on Friday in his Penske Chevrolet. Castroneves won the inaugural race at Barber in 2010, and teammate Will Power is the two-time defending champion.“It’s just the first day,” Castroneves cautioned. “I feel good. I feel like we have a great car, a great team. We’ve showed that in the last years.”Alex Tagliani was second fastest in his Bryan Herta Autosport Honda, followed by rookie Tristan Vautier of Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports. Vautier was fastest in Friday’s first session despite going off course.Simon Pagenaud was fourth to give Schmidt two cars in the top five, and put three Honda’s in the top five after the manufacturer was shut out by Chevrolet in the season-opener at St. Petersburg.“Honda did a fantastic job,” Tagliani said. “I know they were under a lot of pressure in St. Pete. A lot of people were talking about them maybe being behind and they think they made a bit of a gain here, so we’re pleased so far.”Power was fifth – uncharacteristically low on the speed chart.AJ Allmendinger, who will make his IndyCar debut Sunday, was eighth in the third Penske entry. He tested at Barber last month, but the warmer track conditions Friday made for a much different feel in the car, and, he’s still trying to get a good feel for an Indy car after being in NASCAR and away from open-wheel for the last six seasons.• Grand Am: Jon Fogarty, driving for Gainsco/Bob Stallings, extended his Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series record to 25 poles in the Porsche 250 qualifying at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.