NASCAR »

NASCAR Sprint Cup Watkins Glen: Gordon takes pole

Jeff Gordon succeeded in pipping Marcos Ambrose to pole position for Sunday's road course race at Watkins Glen International.
CLICK: Full NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying results from Watkins Glen International

Jeff Gordon claimed pole position for this weekend's Cheez-It 355 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International, meaning that the 43-year-old four-time champion has now clinched a pole in each of the last 22 consecutive seasons.

Gordon's time of 68.126s (129.466mph) on the 2.45-mile, eight-turn permanent road course had succeeded in displacing provisional pole sitter Marcos Ambrose from the top spot by 0.173s, and no one who followed him out in the remaining minutes - including a final attempt from Ambrose himself - was able to improve on it.

It gives Gordon his 75th pole in 747 Cup starts, the most of any active driver, Ryan Newman being the next best with 55 career poles in Cup competition. It's his third pole in 22 races at Watkins Glen, where he is a four-time winner between 1997 and 2001.

"Oh gosh, I am so proud of this pole!" he beamed afterwards. "Qualifying has really been what has been hurting us a Watkins Glen, and I blame myself really. I'm so happy that I got three shots at it today. I really think that made the big difference.

"The first lap I did okay, but I got held up a little coming back to the chequered. The second one was a really good lap and got us into the top 12. I just tried to do the same things in that last lap," he explained. "I thought it was about the same as what I ran before, I didn't think it was going to be that much better. Wow what a lap. I'm so excited!

"I'm pumped, this gives us a lot of confidence. I think today does make a statement," he said. "We've got a real possibility with the Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet. After today, I believe anything is possible."

Ambrose had managed to set a new qualifying track record in the first round of qualifying with a run of 68.113s (129.491mph) but the Australian wasn't able to repeat that performance in the all-important second and final round.

"I thought we had it at the end but it wasn't enough," he said afterwards. "It was a pretty good lap though and I will take it. You have to be happy with front row starts!

"That's a pretty good start to the weekend, I wish Jeff was a little kinder to me to let me get the pole," he added. "He is a fantastic road racer and I have watched a lot of races here where he dominated. He is having a standout year. You can't discount anybody out there. Anyone in that top ten if they had gotten the pole I wouldn't have been surprised."

Behind Gordon and Ambrose, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick will line up alongside each other on row two, with Kurt Busch and AJ Allmendinger making up row three for the start of Sunday afternoon's race.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. admitted that he's cooked his breaks between the two rounds of qualifying but still managed to hold on to seventh place on the grid alongside Matt Kenseth, while Brad Keselowski was somewhat disappointed to only manage ninth place putting him on row five with Ryan Newman. Keselowski's Penske team mate Joey Logano and Brian Vickers also made it through to the top 12 shootout.

"It was okay," shrugged Keselowski. "We didn't get to do a mock run in practice. I don't know if it would have been any different anyway, who knows? We just didn't quite put all the pieces together to make it work.

"We had some traffic on one run and then had to do an extra run and it kept all stacking up," he added. "I feel like we are really fast in race trim, we have a lot of speed, we just need it to not fall off so much. If we can do that, we will have a shot to win tomorrow."

Just missing out on making it through from the first round of qualifying were Tony Stewart and Jamie McMurray who will line-up in 13th and 14th places for the start of Sunday's race just ahead of Justin Allgaier, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin and Cole Whitt.

Last year's race winner Kyle Busch could only manage 19th place in qualifying putting him alongside Paul Menard. Also left with a lot of work to do in the race are Kyle Larson (starting from 23rd), Clint Bowyer (24th), Aric Almirola (27th), Greg Biffle (28th), Kasey Kahne (30th) and Austin Dillon (31st).

"Honestly I don't know," said Ambrose why he had been so far off the pace of Ambrose, his Richard Petty Motorsport team mate. "I felt like I hit all my marks just like I did in practice and I felt like I got up through the Esses pretty good. I don't know where the half-second I lost from yesterday was.

"I guess that is why I am not a road course racer," he admitted. "I felt like I had really picked up a lot yesterday during practice and got into rhythm and then to wake up this morning and have to lay down a lap, this is not my specialty. We didn't lay a good lap down and I am really disappointed."

Nelson Piquet Jr. will start his first Sprint Cup race from 32nd place, a row ahead from another road course specialist Boris Said who qualified in 34th position.

Danica Patrick did not put in any serious qualifying runs, preferring instead to work on race trim in the knowledge that she will have to start from the back of the field after having to change an engine between practice sessions on Friday. She also ended the day with a crash that will likely see her take to the backup car for the rest of the weekend.

"To me it almost looks like the shock broke," said Patrick's crew chief Tony Gibson. "She went into 1 and she said it moved more than it normally did and then Kenseth said it started tyre smoking and as soon as he said that, she hit. It looks to me like a shock broke. It looks like it just compressed all down and done."

Patrick wasn't hurt in the incident and was able to walk to the ambulance for transportation to the in-field care centre where she was quickly evaluated and released, but she was understandably not in the best of moods.

"It has been a record horrible day, I'm pretty sure," she said. "Why not stack it on?"

Full NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying results from Watkins Glen International



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Marcos Ambrose, driver of the #9 Stanley Ford, looks on in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International on August 8, 2014 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International on August 8, 2014 in Watkins Glen, New York.  (Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS, won the pole position Saturday, August 9, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York. Gordon leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Christa L. Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, lead a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, passes Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, to take the lead and win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and team owner Tony Stewart celebrate winning in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with his wife DeLana and son Keelan in victory lane after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Marcos Ambrose, driver of the #9 Stanley Ford, poses with his team before his last race, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, leads Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Start the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.




© 1999 - 2014 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.