Gordon wins Cup pole at The Glen

Jeff Gordon celebrates
Age Manocchia/AR1.com

Four-time Watkins Glen International winner Jeff Gordon picked up his first Coors Light Pole Award of the season, topping Sprint Cup Series qualifying at the road course in Watkins Glen, New York on Saturday.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver led the way in the second round with a best speed of 129.466 mph, holding off last year's pole-winner Marcos Ambrose. The Richard Petty Motorsports driver set a track record of 129.491 mph in the opening round, but topped out at 129.138 after the cut. He'll start alongside Gordon in Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at The Glen (1 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Jimmie Johnson (128.968) and Kevin Harvick (128.859) make up the second row, while Kurt Busch (128.816) and AJ Allmendinger (128.701) will follow.

After time expired in the first round, Joey Logano bumped Tony Stewart from the top 12. The three-time champion will start 13th, which is the same spot he started from for his 2009 win at the Glen.

Other notables who did not make the cut for the second round were Carl Edwards (16th), defending winner Kyle Busch (19th), Martin Truex Jr. (25th) and Clint Bowyer (24th).

Danica Patrick was dead last in 43rd.

Quotes

Jeff Gordon celebrates
Age Manocchia/AR1.com

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS – POLE WINNER

"Oh gosh, I am so proud of this pole, and the effort the this Drive To End Hunger team put in this weekend, as well as that lap. Qualifying has really been what has been hurting us a Watkins Glen, and I blame myself really. I'm so happy that I got three shots at it today. I really think that made the big different. The first lap I did okay, but I got held up a little coming back to the checkered. The second one was a really good lap and got us into the top-12. I just tried to do the same things in that last lap. Alan (Gustafson crew chief) made a slight adjustment. I thought it was about the same as what I ran before, I didn't think it was going to be that much better. Wow what a lap. I'm so excited. Today is Leo's (son) birthday and I told him on the phone earlier that I was going to go try to get a pole for him realistically thinking I had a shot at it. We were going for it and we got it done. Happy Birthday Buddy. I'm pumped, this gives us a lot of confidence. I think today does make a statement, We didn't do too much in qualifying runs. Just the way we struggled here in the last couple years. This has been one of our toughest tracks, then to start the weekend off with a pole. Heck yes! We've got real possibilities with the Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet. After today, I believe anything is possible."

WHAT DOES THIS POLE MEAN TODAY?
"That was huge. That was huge. We made several qualifying runs yesterday and really struggled. We have been struggling here qualifying these last few years. It's had a lot to do with our poor performance here at Watkins Glen. I didn't think we had that in us. I really didn't. Well I should say I knew the car had it in it. I didn't think I did. I honestly was missing a few marks out there. That last lap I just hit all the corners really well and learned what I could from the previous laps with our Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet. I'm so proud. Today is my son's birthday. There is no doubt this is for his birthday."

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 3RD

"Very fast race car. We unloaded strong and found something really good for race trim. It didn't work so well yesterday for us in qualifying trim. We were still eighth on the board, but a pretty good gap from where we were up to the front. The No. 88 car had a great lap so we really copied the No. 88's qualifying set-up. It had a lot of speed. So a big thank you to Steve Letarte and Dale, Jr. for a fast set-up under the car that extra little bit to get us up there in the top five. Things were much different in the car and on my lap in the second session. I was trying to mimic little traces and lines I had seen on the data from Junior's lap. I had a mistake into turn six so I regret that a little bit, but still with the mistake a real good starting position."

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 4 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 4TH

"I didn't really put a whole lap together. The car was really good and just didn't get everything out of it that I needed to get the pole. Still a solid effort by our Budweiser team and a really good starting position. From there we should be able to hopefully race up front all day."

KURT BUSCH, NO. 41 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 5TH

"It was a nice qualifying session today with the adjustments we made overnight we put ourselves in contention to be in that final elite group. We had to make a second outing when we were right on the bubble. We were 11th at the time. We did get bumped to 12th when we took our green flag. We would have stayed 12th, but it was like we were buying insurance. Sometimes you don't need insurance, but it's good to have it. Yet we still picked up on our third time out. That was the good thing that we kept laying down good lap times. The car is solid. Were we a pole sitting car? Maybe, but we were in position, we have a top-five starting spot and that is what you come here to do on Friday and Saturday, now it's race time."

AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 47 SCOTTS PRODUCTS CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 6TH

ON HIS WEEKEND SO FAR AND HIS QUALIFYING LAP.
"I just never hit a lap. Just disappointed with myself. The weekend has gone alright. I think we need to keep improving a little, just little things. I think the car is fast. Pole would have been nice, but more than anything just disappointed that I never felt like I nailed a lap. I don't know if I could have run what Jeff (Gordon) ran, but I didn't give myself a shot at it."

DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 7TH

"Real happy we are happy with how the car has got real good speed. I was real disappointed because we lost all our brakes on that last run. They cooked in between the sessions and didn't have a brake pedal on any of the straightaways and really had to do a lot of pumping on the brakes. Like coming out of (turn) 10 and going into (turn) eleven it would be going to the floor in just that little bit of stretch there. We learned a little bit of a lesson on that and won't let that happen again. But the car has amazing grip, great speed. We have been real happy all weekend and so just appreciate my guys working so hard and putting such a good car out there. I feel lucky to be able to drive it. I haven't really had to try to find any speed myself or help them sort out anything on the car balance wise. They unloaded a real fast car and I've been learning how to drive it and just getting better and better the longer the weekend goes like we usually do at these places."

Lineup

POS CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR SPEED TIME BEHIND
1 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger 129.466 68.126 Leader
2 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Stanley 129.138 68.299 +0.173
3 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 128.968 68.389 +0.263
4 4 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Budweiser 128.859 68.447 +0.321
5 41 Kurt Busch Chevrolet Haas Automation 128.816 68.470 +0.344
6 47 AJ Allmendinger Chevrolet Scott Products 128.701 68.531 +0.405
7 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet National Guard 128.186 68.806 +0.680
8 20 Matt Kenseth Toyota Dollar General 128.179 68.810 +0.684
9 2 Brad Keselowski Ford Miller Lite 128.052 68.878 +0.752
10 31 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Caterpillar 127.867 68.978 +0.852
11 22 Joey Logano Ford Shell Pennzoil 127.761 69.035 +0.909
12 55 Brian Vickers Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 127.510 69.171 +1.045
13 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 128.205 68.796 +0.670
14 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet McDonald's 128.131 68.836 +0.710
15 51 Justin Allgaier Chevrolet BRANDT Professional Agriculture 128.026 68.892 +0.766
16 99 Carl Edwards Ford Kelloggs / Cheez-it 127.839 68.993 +0.867
17 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Ground 127.782 69.024 +0.898
18 26 Cole Whitt Toyota Bully Hill Vineyeards Toyota Camry 127.715 69.060 +0.934
19 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 127.575 69.136 +1.010
20 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Splash / Menards 127.573 69.137 +1.011
21 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Ford Ford EcoBoost 127.562 69.143 +1.017
22 13 Casey Mears Chevrolet No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS 127.322 69.273 +1.147
23 42 Kyle Larson Chevrolet Target 127.309 69.280 +1.154
24 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota RK Motors Charlotte 127.278 69.297 +1.171
25 78 Martin Truex Jr Chevrolet Furniture Row 127.245 69.315 +1.189
26 34 David Ragan Ford Dockside Logistics 127.243 69.316 +1.190
27 43 Aric Almirola Ford Smithfield 127.197 69.341 +1.215
28 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 127.192 69.344 +1.218
29 95 Michael McDowell Ford K-LOVE Radio 127.177 69.352 +1.226
30 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet Farmers Insurance 127.012 69.442 +1.316
31 3 Austin Dillon Chevrolet Dow 126.819 69.548 +1.422
32 77 Nelson Piquet Jr Ford WORX 126.715 69.605 +1.479
33 38 David Gilliland Ford Long John Silver's 126.704 69.611 +1.485
34 32 Boris Said Ford Genny Light 126.571 69.684 +1.558
35 83 Ryan Truex Toyota Burger King Toyota Camry 126.508 69.719 +1.593
36 23 Alex Bowman Toyota Dustless Blasting Toyota Camry 125.824 70.098 +1.972
37 98 Josh Wise Chevrolet Phil Parsons Racing 125.566 70.242 +2.116
38 33 Alex Kennedy Chevrolet Media Cast 125.266 70.410 +2.284
39 36 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet TBA 125.122 70.491 +2.365
40 66 Joe Nemechek Toyota Land Castle Title 125.101 70.503 +2.377
41 40 Landon Cassill Chevrolet Newtown Building Supplies 124.986 70.568 +2.442
42 7 Michael Annett Chevrolet Pilot / Flying J Chevrolet 124.981 70.571 +2.445
43 10 Danica Patrick Chevrolet GoDaddy 124.956 70.585 +2.459

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