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Gordon on pole for second round of the Chase

"It's going to have to be pretty extraordinary," he conceded. "Right next to miraculous. Miraculous things have happened so that's what keeps us motivated and keeps us going forward is that anything can happen and crazier things have happened before."

Starting alongside Gordon on Sunday will be Kyle Busch - with is rather ironic, given that it was Gordon who bumped Busch out of the Chase by just 3pts in the final regular season race at Richmond.

"Practice didn't quite go the way we wanted it to, we sort of struggled early and didn't quite get the draw we had hoped for and had to go out a little bit early today," explained Busch. "The guys made some really nice changes from practice to qualifying to get the car a lot better - and it reacted well and was really fast. I was actually shocked by the time it ran, but pleased with it at the same time.

"But Jeff had a really good draw at the end and beat us by a little bit," he added. "Still it's good for track position to be able to start up front like that here at Loudon."

Gordon's late pole lap also demoted Tony Stewart off the front row of the grid for Sunday's race, but he was content enough with third place.

"It seemed like it got better grip the second lap, just took a little longer for the tyres to come in," he said. "It is a lot shorter race, which I like the length of the race, but, if you get hemmed-up in the back, it can be a long day.

He'll start alongside Brian Vickers, who replaces Mark Martin in the #55 Michael Waltrip Racing car this weekend. Vicker's two MWR team mates who are both in the Chase - Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer - qualified in ninth and 12th respectively.

"I let one get away from us there," admitted Truex of his run. "I think we had a shot at the pole. I just slipped on the second lap, got loose and got the right front above the seam down in one and two and it's like once you do that you're done."

Jeff Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports team mate Kasey Kahne continued a quietly impressive second half of the year, by laying claim to sixth place on the grid, with Dale Earnhardt in 14th place on the grid while Jimmie Johnson will start from 20th.

"I just wish I could do the laps over," said Kahne. "It felt really good, my car felt perfect - I just didn't really go that fast!" he explained. "I was surprised when I was coming off the corner that I knew I was going too slow and so I just picked the throttle up too late."




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Stewart-Haas Racing team co-owner Gene Haas (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Stewart-Haas Racing team co-owner Gene Haas (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, and Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, lead the field past the green flag after the initial caution ended during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 7, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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