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Gordon On Pole At The Glen

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, August 9 2014

Jeff Gordon's is fast again. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Brian Lawdermilk)

Jeff Gordon won the pole for Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race at the Watkins Glen International road course on Saturday.

It was the four-time series champion’s third pole at the 2.45-mile road course and the 75th of his career.

“I’m super excited,” Gordon, the series points leader who will be looking for his third win of the season on Sunday, said. “I think the type of year that we are having certainly has given all of us confidence in what we are doing and our race cars. I think Watkins Glen has kind of been a target on our radar because we have run so poorly here recently. You start to lose confidence in what you are doing, your team loses confidence in their car and you get off track and lost a little bit.

“That is the way it’s been for us the last few times we’ve been here. With the type of race cars we’ve been bringing to the race track this year we had hoped with all the effort put into it that it would pay off for us here. We were fast in race practice yesterday, but I will be honest we went into qualifying trim and it didn’t go very well. We were pretty concerned. We made a few changes over night, but didn’t know what to expect. The first lap I felt like I got through certain parts of the corner really good, but I also got blocked by a car coming back to the checkered. So, we almost got knocked out of that first round and then we went back out and put a really good lap together.

“I think right then that changed our whole qualifying session. Once I knew I could run that lap then that confidence came back and I was just able to go attack the race track. That last lap I have no idea where that came from. I will be honest. I did not think it was that good of a lap. I knew it was a good lap I didn’t know it was that good.”

In getting the pole, Gordon edged Marcos Ambrose.

Gordon took his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet out late in the 10-minute second session to post his lap at 129.466 mph (68.126 seconds). After Gordon made his pole-winning run, Ambrose didn’t have time to get back to the start/finish line and start another qualifying run before the clock ran out on the session.

After setting a track qualifying record at 129.491 mph in the 30-minute first round, Ambrose ran 129.138 mph in the final round to secure the outside of the front row.

Jimmie Johnson, using a setup supplied by Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 team was third in time trials at 128.968 mph, followed by Kevin Harvick (128.859 mph), Kurt Busch (128.816 mph) and AJ Allmendinger (128.701 mph).

Gordon’s late run in the second round wasn’t a strategic decision per se. It was a simply a matter of cooling his car after making two runs in the first round to ensure his advancement to the top 12.

“We have to make two runs in that first session, so when we made that second run, there was only a few minutes left in that session,” Gordon said. “We just had to cool everything down. There were two factors into when we went—cooling everything down, the tires and the engine, and then getting a clean lap.

“It just happened to work out that, when we were done cooling, it was a great time to go. There were no cars on the track.”

Gordon said he was surprised at how strong his lap was.

“I’ll be honest, I was real surprised with the lap (Ambrose) laid in the first session, so you can only imagine how surprised I was when I saw the lap time I had,” Gordon said.

Gordon’s lap also seemed to shock Ambrose, who was timed out before he could start a final run. But the Australian road course ace was gracious in giving the four-time champion his due.

“He’s a fantastic road racer, and I have watched a lot of races here where he dominated,” Ambrose said. “He’s having a standout year. You can’t discount anybody out there. Anyone in that top-12, if they had gotten the pole, I wouldn’t have been surprised.”

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, August 9 2014
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