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Gordon Busts Year-Long Pole Drought At Talladega

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Saturday, May 5 2012

Jeff Gordon won his first pole of 2012 on Saturday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

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Jeff Gordon won his first Sprint Cup Series pole of the season Saturday. The Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driver won that pole for Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway with a lap at 191.623 mph.

The pole was Gordon’s first since the spring race at Talladega last year. It was the 71st pole of his career.

“This is a surprise,” Gordon said.

It was also different – different from the lines took by many of the others in the session as he opted to take stay low on the 2.66-mile, high-banked oval.

“Yeah, we just wanted to try something a little bit different,” Gordon said. “We tried it yesterday on the one run that we made. This is a different monster than Daytona and you’ve got to treat it a little bit different; even in qualifying. So, man I’m proud of that lap for this DuPont Chevrolet. I just feel like you can get up to speed; you don’t have to run that big wide lap. It takes more time. We were all taking about heating and cooling and so we tried something different. So far it’s worked out. I did not expect that good of a lap. I knew we were going to be a threat for it (pole), but that’s pretty sporty.”

Second fastest in qualifying was A.J. Allmendinger, the Penske Racing Dodge driver who won the pole at Kansas Speedway two weeks ago. His fast lap Saturday was at 191.111 mph.

Allmendinger, too, was a bit surprised by his run.

I didn’t get to make a full-blown Q run yesterday, so we weren’t really sure what we had,” he said. “It had nothing to do with me. All the guys in the Penske organization back at the engine shop, everybody that design these cars and puts the horsepower under them; it shows them off on a day like this. It’s really cool to see that we’ve got some speed. I don’t think that will be pole, but it was a good surprise. It’s really cool to see the Shell/Pennzoil Dodge have this much speed. It shows the effort everybody in the Penske organization puts in these race cars. It was a good lap for sure. It shows we have a lot of horsepower and a fast racecar for tomorrow.”

Third fastest in qualifying was Marcos Ambrose of Richard Petty Motorsports. Ambrose top lap in his Ford Fusion was 191.039 mph.

“We missed the pole by two-one hundredths,” Ambrose said. “I am proud of Todd Parrott, he works really hard at these Superspeedway events. He really knows what to do. We just keep getting better and better at these race tracks for the King and for his whole Richard Petty Motorsports team. I have to thank Stanley and Ford for the power. We have a chance to win tomorrow. We are going to do whatever we can to stay up front all day and try to lead that last lap.”

Fourth was Aric Almirola in Richard Petty Motorsports Ford Fusion.

Kasey Kahne in a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Impala fifth. His top qualifying lap was at 190.772 mph.

Greg Biffle, in a Roush Fenway Ford, was sixth while his teammate, Carl Edwards, was seventh.

Rounding out the top 10 were Tony Stewart, Michael Waltrip and Matt Kenseth.

The pole by Gordon extended a personal streak – it gave him a 20th straight season in which he has won a pole. That streak equals the NASCAR record as it ties him with David Pearson.

That’s quite an accomplishment,” Gordon said. “I’m just so proud of this DuPont Chevrolet team. We needed something to boost our morale and something positive because we’ve had a rough year so far. This is a surprise. We did not expect to be sitting here right now talking to you about a pole. I think it’s so ironic that we’ve got the DuPont paint scheme, which is celebrating 20 years together this year and here we sit on the pole for 20 straight years.

“It’s an amazing thing to be a part of and it wouldn’t happen without Hendrick Motorsports and everybody on this DuPont Chevrolet team. Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) is such a genius and the group he surrounds himself with for every race, but especially these restrictor-plate races when it comes to qualifying. So I got the joy of driving it today.”

(This story will be updated shortly)

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Saturday, May 5 2012
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