Jeff Gordon claimed pole position for the second round of the 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, as he attempts to bounce back from his disastrous outing last weekend at Chicago.
"This car has been awesome in qualifying trim all day long," said Gordon after his 28.232s (134.911mph) lap, which put him 0.033s ahead of Kyle Busch in the final timings. "What an awesome effort, great lap. It felt good.
"The car got off the corner really strong and I thought that it would be really close and as tight as these times are you just never know," he continued. "Kyle laid down a heck of a lap so did Tony there to shoot for and man I'm so proud. That felt great. To go out and get a pole on a non-restrictor track, we haven't done that in a little while so this feels really good."
Gordon's only previous pole in 2012 was at one of those restrictor plates tracks - Talladega - which was also where he'd won his only pole of 2011. He has to look all the way back to Charlotte Motor Speedway in October 2010 for a pole position away from the superspeedways.
Gordon did get a little aerodynamic advantage in qualifying - by deciding to shave off the old-style 70s moustache he'd started to grow after pledging one if he made it into the Chase, which he had.
"I did the moustache because somebody said, 'Hey, bring back the moustache,'" he explained. "I said, 'Well, if we make the Chase then I'll bring it back.' So I brought it back and then with the way that it went last week I was like, 'Okay, I'm done with the moustache.' I just changed my mind."
Did that mean Gordon accepted that the disastrous outing at Chicago last week was the end of his Chase hopes in 2012? Not necessarily, the four-time champion insisted.
"It's not that we're out of it by any means, we know we have a lot of work to do, but we can certainly win this thing," he said. "With all we've been through, last week was a bump in the road, but it's not putting us in that mind frame where we're just completely devastated and feel like we're out of it."
So what did he have to do to put himself back in the running? "We have to score a lot more points than the other guys," he laughed. "How do you know what that is? The problem is that you have 11 guys that you have to do that with.