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Jeff Gordon back on pole again for 'Dega

It's been a year since Talladega granted Jeff Gordon his most recent pole position in the Sprint Cup Series, and the romance was rekindled with the same outcome in 2012.
Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon claimed pole position for tomorrow's NASCAR Sprint Cup race, alone in the field of qualifiers to beat the 50s mark with a lap of 49.973s (191.624mph) on the 2.666-mile Talladega Superspeedway tri-oval. It's Gordon's first pole in a year - when he started on pole here for this same event in 2011.

The former Cup champion went to the head of the timesheets by finally ousting AJ Allmendinger from a long-standing provisional pole with just three drivers yet to complete their qualifying laps. Gordon then had to watch on as his biggest threat - Richard Petty Motorsport's Aric Almirola, who had been fastest in all the practice sessions on Friday - made the final assault of the afternoon on his pole time.

"I did not expect that good of a lap," Gordon told reporters as he waited for the outcome of Almirola's challenge. "I knew we were going to be a threat for it, but that's pretty sporty."

In the end it proved quite sporty enough indeed, and Almirola's time ended up falling short by just 0.168s off the pole position. That will put him on the second row of the grid for the start of the Aaron's 499, alongside his RPM team mate Marcos Ambrose.

"I thought we had a good shot at the pole and proved to be right - we qualified fourth so we were really close," said Almirola, who is working with new crew chief Mike Ford for the first time this weekend. "We have a really fast car. We didn't want to be fastest in both practices and steal the pole and win the race. We figured we would give something else to the competition for qualifying. Hopefully we will go get us a win tomorrow."

"We missed the pole by two-one hundredths," said Ambrose, alongside Almirola in third place on the grid. "We just keep getting better and better at these race tracks ... 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."

Gordon was delighted to be back on pole position once more, especially after the sort of luck he's had so far in 2012.

“The biggest positive is that we've had a rough start to the season,” he said. “Not a lot has gone our way. We've had fast race cars but not a lot to show for it. Right now we'll take any kind of positive boost.”

Current championship leader Greg Biffle will start on the third row alongside Gordon's newest Hendrick team mate, Kasey Kahne. The rest of the Hendrick stable are 18th and 19th (Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson respectively) in their Chevrolets, on a grid that generally featured an impressive number of Ford-powered cars looking strong up front.

Reigning champion Tony Stewart did secure a top ten start in 8th with his Chevrolet, putting him alongside his closest competitor from 2011 - Carl Edwards - for the start, after the Ford-powered Roush Fenway qualified in 7th place. Trevor Bayne easily secured his place in the race with Ford-backed Wood Brothers in 11th position, bumping JJ Yeley off the 43-car grid for the Aarons 499.



Related Pictures

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Aric Almirola, with new crew chief Mike Ford, posted the quickest lap in Final Practice for the Aaron`s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. (Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jeff Gordon, the active leader in Talladega wins, stands guard while his team works on his #24 DuPont Chevrolet. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS finished 2nd, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS finished 7th Saturday, April 12, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington South Carolina. Earnhardt Jr. is 4th, Gordon is 1st in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Teammate Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS won. (Photo Credit: HHP/Alan Marler for Chevrolet)
Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the #17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford tangle during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, leads the field to start the NASCAR Nationwide Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway on April 11, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, drives in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 5, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 5, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #17 Ford EcoBoost Ford, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 5, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #5 Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet, leads Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop Toyota, at the start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Trevor Bayne, driver of the #6 AdvoCare Ford, loses control of his car during the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #5 Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, during the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Doors / Menards Toyota, poses in Victory Lane with the trophy after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway on March 30, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Doors / Menards Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway on March 30, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, races Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 30, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Doors / Menards Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway on March 30, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton ready for racing at Daytona International Speedway on 14 January 2014. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton in action at Daytona International Speedway on 14 January 2014. (Photo Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS races to a third-place finish Sunday, March 30, 2014 during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia. Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Racing Chevrolet SS won the race and Jimmie Johnson driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS finished second. (Photo by HHP/Garry Eller for Chevy Racing)

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