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Jeff Gordon wins first pole of 2010

by Pete McCole
Thursday, October 14, 2010

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Jeff Gordon celebrates his 69th career Coors Light Pole Award, tying him for third all time with Cale Yarborough
Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR

Jeff Gordon stole the spotlight away from his teammate and points leader Jimmie Johnson on Thursday with a superb come-from-behind qualifying effort that earned him his for pole of the season for Saturday’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Rallying for a poor showing in the earlier practice sessions, Gordon paced the 1.5-mile quad oval in 28.192 seconds at 191.544 mph to knock Paul Menard from the top spot and hung on for his 69th career Sprint Cup pole, tying him with Cale Yarborough for third all-time.

Carl Edwards will start second, followed by A.J. Allmendinger, Mark Martin and Menard.

Gordon’s front-row start will be his seventh at Charlotte - where he has five victories including his first career Sprint Cup victory in the 1994 Coca Cola 600 – but his first at the track since 2000.

“This was huge and a huge shock,” said Gordon. “I'll be honest. Today, the way it was going, I didn't think we had any shot at this pole.

“We just have not been qualifying good this year and as you mentioned, we haven't qualified this well in Charlotte for 10 years. When it comes to Charlotte we used to qualify so well here but competition and cars and different things change over the years, we just sort of lost our way here.”

The momentum couldn’t come at a better time for Gordon - who is fourth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings and in the midst of a 59-race winless drought – and needs all the help he can get if he wants to have any chance of Johnson and stake his claim at his own fifth Sprint Cup title.

“I think that one of the toughest things about this sport is losing confidence, whether it be the team losing confidence in me or me losing confidence in them or the cars or adjustments,” said Gordon. “I think the thing I'm the most proud of with this team is that while we haven't won in quite a while, we haven't been like fighting with one another. We're not second-guessing one another, and I think that's what's allowed us to stay in this battle for the championship in the Chase. And I think that if we can get that confidence back, that's what's going to help us win this championship.

“A pole is definitely that little step. A win would be a huge step for us.”

Kyle Busch qualified sixth, followed by Reed Sorenson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Elliott Sadler, while Johnson will start 10th – the only other Chase contenders to earn a top-ten starting spot.

Denny Hamlin, currently second in the Chase standings, will start 23rd, just ahead of third-place points man Kevin Harvick in 24th.  Fifth-place Tony Stewart will start 29th.

For Edwards, who is 162-points back and seventh place in the Chase standings, a second-place starting spot is proof that his team is far from out of contention, although he would need to step up his game in the final six races to have any shot at catching Johnson.

“Hell yes we’re still in it,” said Edwards. “I go out here and race as hard as I can and if we’ve got a mathematical chance of being in it, then we do have a chance.  We don’t quit.  That’s not what we do. If I gave up with six races to go, I think that would be pretty foolish

“We have got six races left to, you know, to go run the way we know we can run, and if we can maybe reel off a couple of wins and have some top fives and Jimmie can have a little bit of trouble, then, you know, I think can could still be anyone's race.”

Among the Chase contenders to qualify outside the top-10 were Kurt Busch, in 15th followed by Matt Kenseth (17th) and Jeff Burton (18th). Clint Bowyer was 20th, followed by Greg Biffle in 22nd. 

Six drivers failed to make the field, including Joe Nemechek, Casey Mears, Johnny Sauter, Kevin Conway, Mike Bliss and Jason Leffler.

Lineup

POS CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR SPEED TIME BEHIND
1 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 191.544 28.192 Leader
2 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac 191.455 28.205 -0.013
3 43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford Wix Filters 190.921 28.284 -0.092
4 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet GoDaddy.com 190.914 28.285 -0.093
5 98 Paul Menard Ford Schrock Cabinetry / Menards 190.678 28.320 -0.128
6 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 190.644 28.325 -0.133
7 83 Reed Sorenson Toyota Red Bull 190.409 28.360 -0.168
8 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Amp Energy / National Guard 190.382 28.364 -0.172
9 19 Elliott Sadler Ford Stanley 190.382 28.364 -0.172
10 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 190.342 28.370 -0.178
11 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Haas Automation 190.322 28.373 -0.181
12 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 190.275 28.380 -0.188
13 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA / Susan G Komen for the Cure 190.275 28.380 -0.188
14 47 Marcos Ambrose Toyota Lance Snacks / Tom's Snacks 190.121 28.403 -0.211
15 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Operation Home Front / Miller Lite 190.101 28.406 -0.214
16 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Outdoors Mossy Oak 190.067 28.411 -0.219
17 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Crown Royal Black 190.007 28.420 -0.228
18 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 189.813 28.449 -0.257
19 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 189.793 28.452 -0.260
20 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Cheerios / Hamburger Helper 189.753 28.458 -0.266
21 82 Scott Speed Toyota Red Bull 189.707 28.465 -0.273
22 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M Scotch-Blue Painter's Tape 189.607 28.480 -0.288
23 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Ground 189.527 28.492 -0.300
24 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 189.520 28.493 -0.301
25 9 Kasey Kahne Ford Budweiser 189.494 28.497 -0.305
26 6 David Ragan Ford UPS / United Way 189.334 28.521 -0.329
27 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 189.268 28.531 -0.339
28 09 Landon Cassill Chevrolet Phoenix Construction / GracewayPharmaceuticals 189.255 28.533 -0.341
29 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Old Spice Showtime / Office Depot 189.168 28.546 -0.354
30 110 Bobby Labonte Chevrolet Gander Mountain 189.023 28.568 -0.376
31 12 Brad Keselowski Dodge Penske Racing 189.010 28.570 -0.378
32 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 188.890 28.588 -0.396
33 46 Michael McDowell Chevrolet Conely for School Board / Whitney's Collision Centers 188.871 28.591 -0.399
34 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 188.857 28.593 -0.401
35 26 Patrick Carpentier Ford Air National Guard 188.805 28.601 -0.409
36 38 David Gilliland Ford Taco Bell 188.719 28.614 -0.422
37 21 Bill Elliott Ford JDRF / Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center 188.232 28.688 -0.496
38 71 Andy Lally Chevrolet ModSpace / Savory Thymes / TRG Motorsports 187.669 28.774 -0.582
39 7 Robby Gordon Toyota Extenze 187.533 28.795 -0.603
40 36 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing 187.363 28.821 -0.629
41 164 Jeff Green Toyota Gunselman Motorsports 187.305 28.830 -0.638
42 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota FrontRowJoe.com 187.214 28.844 -0.652
43 13 Casey Mears Toyota GEICO 186.935 28.887 -0.695
44 55 Mike Bliss Toyota Prism Motorsports 186.599 28.939 -0.747
45 66 Jason Leffler Toyota Prism Motorsports 185.810 29.062 -0.870
46 207 Kevin Conway* Toyota Extenze 185.790 29.065 -0.873
47 34 Travis Kvapil Ford Long John Silver's 185.484 29.113 -0.921
48 37 Dave Blaney Ford "Andy Griffith Show" 50th Anniversary 185.484 29.113 -0.921
49 123 Johnny Sauter Toyota Pink and Blue for Two 183.561 29.418 -1.226

+ Set by Owner Points
* Denotes Rookie

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