Talladega, AL (SportsNetwork.com) – Jeff Gordon claimed his 80th career pole
in the Sprint Cup Series in Saturday’s qualifying for the Geico 500 at
Gordon, the last driver to make his qualifying run in the second and final
round of qualifying, made a lap around this 2.66-mile superspeedway at 194.793
mph. It was the third pole of the year for Gordon, who is in his final season
of Sprint Cup competition. He won the pole for the Daytona 500 — the first
restrictor-plate race of season — and at Las Vegas. Talladega is the second
restrictor-plate event in 2015.
This was the first time NASCAR used its modified version of single-car
qualifying at a restrictor-plate track (Daytona and Talladega). It featured
two rounds of qualifying, with the top-12 posted lap speeds in the opening
round advancing into the last segment.
In March, NASCAR announced changes to the qualifying procedures for national
touring series races at Daytona and Talladega after its group format was
severely criticized by drivers at Daytona in February. With packs of cars
running together, several big wrecks occurred during qualifying for the Sprint
Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series races there.
Gordon had the fastest lap of the 45 drivers competing in the first round of
single-car qualifying at Talladega. His lap in Q1 was clocked at 194.749 mph.
The qualifying order for Q2 was determined by slowest to fastest speeds from
the opening segment.
Gordon leads all active drivers with six race wins at Talladega. He now has
four poles in 45 starts here. Gordon is the last driver to win a Sprint Cup
race from the pole at this track (April 2007).
Kasey Kahne, who is Gordon’s teammate at Hendrick Motorsports, went out eighth
in Q2 and held the provisional pole with a lap at 193.685 mph. Gordon’s lap
was 0.281 seconds quicker than Kahne.
While Gordon and Kahne gave Hendrick a sweep of the front starting row, their
teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson qualified fourth and fifth,
respectively. Ryan Blaney, driving for The Wood Brothers, spoiled a Hendrick
sweep of the first two rows by qualifying third at 193.611 mph.
Finishing sixth through 12th in qualifying were: Tony Stewart, Paul Menard,
Matt Kenseth, David Ragan, Clint Bowyer, Casey Mears and Sam Hornish Jr.
Kyle Larson missed advancing into Q2 by only 0.003 seconds. Larson will start
Other notable drivers and their starting positions include: Brad Keselowski
(15th), Denny Hamlin (17th), Ryan Newman (18th), Kurt Busch (19th), Joey
Logano (21st), Carl Edwards (22nd), Kevin Harvick (24th), Danica Patrick
(25th), Jamie McMurray (27th), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (29th) and Martin Truex Jr.
Michael McDowell and Jeb Burton failed to qualify.