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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)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet SS, stops in his pit on his way to a fifth place finish Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Elliott takes over the #24 car from retired driver Jeff Gordon.  (Photo by Ashley R Dickerson for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 as Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage (L) and John Godwin of Duck Commander (R) look on at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, leads the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 8, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 8, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates with the chequered flag after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, leads Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #14 Target Chevrolet SS, finishes in third place, Sunday April 3, 2016, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, VA (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Kroger/Butterfinger/Coffeemate Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place, Sunday April 3, 2016, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, VA (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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