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Loudon NASCAR: Jeff Gordon claims pole

Jeff Gordon takes Loudon poleJeff 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
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