Jeff Gordon held off last week's race winner Kevin Harvick by 0.015s to secure pole position for this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Putting a late draw to good use, Gordon posted a time of 27.791s (194.308mph) on Thursday night to capture his second pole of the year and his 74th pole in 720 Cup starts. It's his ninth pole at Charlotte, a venue where the 42-year-old holds the record for being the youngest pole winner in the series' history - he was just 22 years, two months and six days old when he captured his first Charlotte pole on October 10, 1993.

"It was an added bonus to go out late," said Gordon, acknowledging that the later time meant cooler conditions and slightly better grip. "There is nothing greater than when it's all on the line and all the pressure is there. You're the final car to go. There's nothing worse than letting them down, and nothing better than stepping up and knocking it out of the park."

"That late draw certainly is always good just seeing what the other guys are doing, the grip level, what the track conditions are. I felt confident all day in the car. It just had good grip, was doing the things I wanted it to do and to then go out there," he continued. "To do it here in Charlotte as well, I think it's been awhile since we've won a pole here. Man it feels so good. Very proud of this team they deserve a lot of credit. They gave me a fantastic car not just today but they have been bringing them for the last several weeks. That is making a lot of fun for us."

Gordon is well supported at the front by his Hendrick Motorsport team mates for the start of the floodlit race, with all four in the top six: Jimmie Johnson will start from fourth ahead of Kasey Kahne (fastest in the earlier single practice session) and Dale Earnhardt Jr, the trio sandwiched by Greg Biffle starting alongside Johnson on the second row and Ryan Newman taking up seventh place on the grid for Stewart-Haas Racing.

The Busch brothers Kyle and Kurt start from ninth and tenth, with Joey Logano lining up in 12th and Clint Bowyer immediately behind him in 14th. Carl Edwards makes it an all-Roush Fenway Racing row eight as he lines up alongside his rookie team mate Ricky Stenhouse Jr., but there's a less-than-idea 20th position on the grid for points leader Matt Kenseth who is the slowest of the 13 Chase contenders in qualifying.

As well as the Chase contenders, this weekend's night race will also see the Cup debut for Kyle Larson, the Nationwide Series rookie who will take over the #42 Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing car from Juan Pablo Montoya in 2014. He qualified a creditable 21st position for his maiden outing. Also making their bow at the top level of NASCAR this weekend are Brian Scott and Blake Koch.

Qualifying times

1. #24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 27.791s (Pole) 194.308mph
2. #29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 27.806s (+ 0.015s) 194.203mph
3. #16 Greg Biffle Ford 27.841s (+ 0.050s) 193.959mph
4. #48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 27.865s (+ 0.074s) 193.791mph
5. #5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 27.879s (+ 0.088s) 193.694mph
6. #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 27.902s (+ 0.111s) 193.535mph
7. #39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 27.913s (+ 0.122s) 193.458mph
8. #42 Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet 27.919s (+ 0.128s) 193.417mph
9. #18 Kyle Busch Toyota 27.921s (+ 0.130s) 193.403mph
10. #78 Kurt Busch Chevrolet 27.963s (+ 0.172s) 193.112mph
11. #43 Aric Almirola Ford 27.980s (+ 0.189s) 192.995mph
12. #22 Joey Logano Ford 27.983s (+ 0.192s) 192.974mph
13. #27 Paul Menard Chevrolet 28.015s (+ 0.224s) 192.754mph
14. #15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 28.020s (+ 0.229s) 192.719mph
15. #99 Carl Edwards Ford 28.041s (+ 0.250s) 192.575mph
16. #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford 28.072s (+ 0.281s) 192.362mph
17. #56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 28.091s (+ 0.300s) 192.232mph
18. #11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 28.107s (+ 0.316s) 192.123mph
19. #33 Brian Scott Chevrolet 28.122s (+ 0.331s) 192.020mph
20. #20 Matt Kenseth Toyota 28.126s (+ 0.335s) 191.993mph
21. #51 Kyle Larson Chevrolet 28.131s (+ 0.340s) 191.959mph
22. #14 Mark Martin Chevrolet 28.157s (+ 0.366s) 191.782mph
23. #2 Brad Keselowski Ford 28.162s (+ 0.371s) 191.748mph
24. #47 Bobby Labonte Toyota 28.179s (+ 0.388s) 191.632mph
25. #1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 28.189s (+ 0.398s) 191.564mph
26. #31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet 28.203s (+ 0.412s) 191.469mph
27. #55 Brian Vickers Toyota 28.278s (+ 0.487s) 190.961mph
28. #13 Casey Mears Ford 28.333s (+ 0.542s) 190.590mph
29. #9 Marcos Ambrose Ford 28.339s (+ 0.548s) 190.550mph
30. #34 David Ragan Ford 28.369s (+ 0.578s) 190.349mph
31. #30 Cole Whitt Toyota 28.370s (+ 0.579s) 190.342mph
32. #40 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 28.470s (+ 0.679s) 189.673mph
33. #35 Josh Wise Ford 28.542s (+ 0.751s) 189.195mph
34. #38 David Gilliland Ford 28.561s (+ 0.770s) 189.069mph
35. #10 Danica Patrick Chevrolet 28.583s (+ 0.792s) 188.923mph
36. #83 David Reutimann Toyota 28.631s (+ 0.840s) 188.607mph
37. #98 Michael McDowell Ford 28.659s (+ 0.868s) 188.422mph
38. #87 Joe Nemechek Toyota 28.741s (+ 0.950s) 187.885mph
39. #7 Dave Blaney Chevrolet 28.746s (+ 0.955s) 187.852mph
40. #32 Timmy Hill Ford 28.823s (+ 1.032s) 187.350mph
41. #93 Travis Kvapil Toyota 28.924s (+ 1.133s) 186.696mph
42. #36 JJ Yeley Chevrolet 29.049s (+ 1.258s) 185.893mph
43. #95 Blake Koch Ford 29.905s (+ 2.114s) 180.572mph

Practice 1 times

1. #5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 27.863s (Leader) 193.805mph (22 laps)
2. #18 Kyle Busch Toyota 27.885s (-0.022s) 193.653mph (26 laps)
3. #29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 27.900s (-0.037s) 193.548mph (22 laps)
4. #24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 27.918s (-0.055s) 193.424mph (16 laps)
5. #22 Joey Logano Ford 27.937s (-0.074s) 193.292mph (25 laps)
6. #16 Greg Biffle Ford 27.945s (-0.082s) 193.237mph (17 laps)
7. #42 Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet 27.949s (-0.086s) 193.209mph (22 laps)
8. #20 Matt Kenseth Toyota 27.980s (-0.117s) 192.995mph (16 laps)
9. #99 Carl Edwards Ford 27.981s (-0.118s) 192.988mph (17 laps)
10. #2 Brad Keselowski Ford 28.005s (-0.142s) 192.823mph (30 laps)
11. #11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 28.011s (-0.148s) 192.781mph (18 laps)
12. #51 Kyle Larson Chevrolet 28.014s (-0.151s) 192.761mph (17 laps)
13. #15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 28.030s (-0.167s) 192.651mph (16 laps)
14. #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford 28.055s (-0.192s) 192.479mph (10 laps)
15. #43 Aric Almirola Ford 28.070s (-0.207s) 192.376mph (12 laps)
16. #56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 28.074s (-0.211s) 192.349mph (11 laps)
17. #48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 28.077s (-0.214s) 192.328mph (22 laps)
18. #78 Kurt Busch Chevrolet 28.091s (-0.228s) 192.232mph (24 laps)
19. #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 28.096s (-0.233s) 192.198mph (31 laps)
20. #14 Mark Martin Chevrolet 28.104s (-0.241s) 192.143mph (17 laps)
21. #55 Brian Vickers Toyota 28.107s (-0.244s) 192.123mph (15 laps)
22. #27 Paul Menard Chevrolet 28.169s (-0.306s) 191.700mph (10 laps)
23. #39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 28.196s (-0.333s) 191.517mph (14 laps)
24. #9 Marcos Ambrose Ford 28.266s (-0.403s) 191.042mph (13 laps)
25. #33 Brian Scott Chevrolet 28.277s (-0.414s) 190.968mph (18 laps)
26. #31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet 28.300s (-0.437s) 190.813mph (12 laps)
27. #10 Danica Patrick Chevrolet 28.345s (-0.482s) 190.510mph (19 laps)
28. #30 Cole Whitt Toyota 28.362s (-0.499s) 190.396mph (20 laps)
29. #13 Casey Mears Ford 28.374s (-0.511s) 190.315mph (20 laps)
30. #1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 28.393s (-0.530s) 190.188mph (7 laps)
31. #47 Bobby Labonte Toyota 28.404s (-0.541s) 190.114mph (17 laps)
32. #34 David Ragan Ford 28.440s (-0.577s) 189.873mph (17 laps)
33. #38 David Gilliland Ford 28.452s (-0.589s) 189.793mph (18 laps)
34. #93 Travis Kvapil Toyota 28.530s (-0.667s) 189.274mph (15 laps)
35. #83 David Reutimann Toyota 28.614s (-0.751s) 188.719mph (11 laps)
36. #40 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 28.665s (-0.802s) 188.383mph (9 laps)
37. #7 Dave Blaney Chevrolet 28.739s (-0.876s) 187.898mph (12 laps)
38. #98 Michael McDowell Ford 28.845s (-0.982s) 187.207mph (8 laps)
39. #87 Joe Nemechek Toyota 28.879s (-1.016s) 186.987mph (6 laps)
40. #32 Timmy Hill Ford 29.015s (-1.152s) 186.111mph (6 laps)
41. #35 Josh Wise Ford 29.088s (-1.225s) 185.644mph (4 laps)
42. #36 JJ Yeley Chevrolet 29.156s (-1.293s) 185.211mph (7 laps)
43. #95 Blake Koch Ford 29.536s (-1.673s) 182.828mph (9 laps)


Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment