Loudon NASCAR: Jeff Gordon claims pole
|By Diego Mejia||Friday, September 21st 2012, 21:57 GMT|
Jeff Gordon beat Kyle Busch to pole position for Sunday's second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase round at Loudon.
Four-time champion Gordon had been second fastest in practice and was therefore the penultimate car to complete his qualifying run.
He improved on Joe Gibbs Racing driver Busch's previous benchmark by 33 thousandths of the second with a lap of 28.232 seconds.
Denny Hamlin, who had like looked the driver to beat heading into qualifying after topping practice, ended up a disappointing 32nd, worst among Chase contenders.
Gordon's second pole of the season comes following a poor start to his championship campaign, when he crashed due to a stuck throttle last week at Chicagoland Speedway's Chase opener.
"That was a great lap," said Gordon. "Started off kind of a tough day for us in race trim. We tried some things that weren't working too well for us, switched over to qualifying trim and immediately went to second on the board. But even at that we were quite a way behind [Hamlin].
"The car really did everything I asked for it to do in that run... This was a great one and certainly good timing."
Hamlin's JGR team-mate Kyle Busch will start second ahead of reigning champion Tony Stewart and Michael Waltrip Racing's Brian Vickers, who returns to the #55 Toyota this week for his seventh outing of the season.
Five Chase contenders took positions 12th through 16th, with former Loudon winner Clint Bowyer leading the sequence in his #15 MWR Toyota.
Penske's Brad Keselowski, who leads the Chase after his Chicagoland win, was 15th behind Roush's Greg Biffle, Hendrick's Dale Earnhardt Jr and ahead of Richard Childress Racing's Kevin Harvick.
Jimmie Johnson, second in the play-off standings, was only 20th, having run the eighth fastest lap in practice.
Scott Speed was the fastest of the non-guaranteed drivers in 27th while David Stremme, Scott Riggs, Jason Leffler and Jeff Green initially failed to make the field.
However, Josh Wise had his times disallowed after officials found the gas pressure on the rear shocks exceeded the limit, losing his spot on the grid and allowing Stremme a place in the field.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 28.232s 2. Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota 28.265s + 0.033s 3. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 28.304s + 0.072s 4. Brian Vickers Waltrip Toyota 28.322s + 0.090s 5. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 28.349s + 0.117s 6. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet 28.386s + 0.154s 7. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet 28.403s + 0.171s 8. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 28.438s + 0.206s 9. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota 28.451s + 0.219s 10. Dave Blaney Penske Dodge 28.453s + 0.221s 11. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet 28.455s + 0.223s 12. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota 28.461s + 0.229s 13. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 28.499s + 0.267s 14. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 28.501s + 0.269s 15. Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge 28.506s + 0.274s 16. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet 28.509s + 0.277s 17. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 28.516s + 0.284s 18. Joey Logano Gibbs Toyota 28.521s + 0.289s 19. Aric Almirola Petty Ford 28.573s + 0.341s 20. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 28.610s + 0.378s 21. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 28.614s + 0.382s 22. Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet 28.633s + 0.401s 23. Kurt Busch Phoenix Chevrolet 28.645s + 0.413s 24. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 28.670s + 0.438s 25. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford 28.681s + 0.449s 26. David Ragan Front Row Ford 28.698s + 0.466s 27. Scott Speed Leavine Ford 28.725s + 0.493s 28. Landon Cassill BK Toyota 28.733s + 0.501s 29. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 28.777s + 0.545s 30. Casey Mears Germain Ford 28.812s + 0.580s 31. Michael McDowell Parsons Ford 28.870s + 0.638s 32. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota 28.935s + 0.703s 33. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota 28.977s + 0.745s 34. David Reutimann Baldwin Chevrolet 29.035s + 0.803s 35. Reed Sorenson Humphrey Smith Chevrolet 29.083s + 0.851s 36. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 29.111s + 0.879s 37. David Gilliland Front Row Ford 29.121s + 0.889s 38. Kelly Bires Go Green Ford 29.155s + 0.923s 39. Stephen Leicht Circle Sport Chevrolet 29.216s + 0.984s 40. JJ Yeley Max Q Chevrolet 29.247s + 1.015s 41. Tony Raines Baldwin Chevrolet 29.673s + 1.441s 42. Mike Olsen Front Row Ford 30.192s + 1.960s 43. David Stremme Inception Toyota 29.325s + 1.093s Did not qualify: Scott Riggs R3 Chevrolet 29.363s + 1.131s Jason Leffler Robinson-Blakeney Toyota 29.366s + 1.134s Jeff Green Humphrey Smith Toyota 29.469s + 1.237s Josh Wise Front Row Ford 29.007s + 0.775s