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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.



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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)
Brennan Poole, driver of the #42 DC Solar Chevrolet, Aric Almirola, driver of the #98 Fresh from Florida Ford, Blake Koch, driver of the #8 Celsius Healthy Energy Cola Toyota, Chris Buescher, driver of the #60 Bit-O-Honey Ford, Dakoda Armstrong, driver of the #43 WinField Ford, and Regan Smith, driver of the #7 Fire Alarm Services Chevrolet, are involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Subway Firecracker 250 Powered By Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on July 4, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Austin Dillon driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS, qualifies second Saturday July 4, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Dillon was awarded second position based on his practice lap from Friday. Sprint Cup qualifying was canceled Saturday due to weather. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Austin Dillon driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS, qualifies second Saturday July 4, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Dillon was awarded second position based on his practice lap from Friday. Sprint Cup qualifying was canceled Saturday due to weather. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Stars and Stripes Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 4, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, walks through the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 3, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, leads Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, at the end of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 28, 2015 in Sonoma, California. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 28, 2015 in Sonoma, California. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 28, 2015 in Sonoma, California. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 28, 2015 in Sonoma, California. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Kingsford Charcoal Chevrolet, leads the field to the green flag at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 28, 2015 in Sonoma, California.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Pro Services Chevrolet, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 28, 2015 in Sonoma, California. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place, Sunday June 28, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place, Sunday June 28, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)

Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place, Sunday June 28, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)

Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Folds of Honor/Outback Steakhouse/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, finishes in fourth place, Sunday June 28, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)

Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Folds of Honor/Outback Steakhouse/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, finishes in fourth place, Sunday June 28, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fourth position, Saturday June 27, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fifth position, Saturday June 27, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
A.J. Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Chevrolet SS, captures the pole position, Saturday June 27, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California.  It is Allmendinger`s first career pole.  Allmendinger is 22nd in the standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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