Watkins Glen NASCAR: Jeff Gordon beats Marcos Ambrose to pole
|Saturday, August 9th 2014, 16:58 GMT|
Jeff Gordon claimed his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole position of 2014 at Watkins Glen, beating road course specialist Marcos Ambrose in the process.
The championship leader left it late in qualifying to bump his Australian rival from the top spot with a lap of 1m08.126 (129.466mph), putting Ambrose in a Hendrick sandwich with Jimmie Johnson starting in third.
Small consolation for the Richard Petty racer, however, is that he managed to beat his own record at the Glen in the first round of qualifying, having set a time of 1m08.113s.
Practice pacesetter Kevin Harvick joins Johnson on the second row and both start ahead of Kurt Busch and AJ Allmendinger, who has shown a good turn of speed throughout the weekend.
Last weekend's Pocono winner Dale Earnhardt Jr was the best part of half a second slower than his Hendrick team-mates at the top of the order and will begin seventh.
Matt Kenseth beat Brad Keselowski to eighth with a last-gasp lap, while Ryan Newman and Joey Logano were the final two drivers less than a second off the ultimate pace set by Gordon.
Logano was fortunate to enter the top 12 shootout for pole having damaged his front splitter in the first 30-minute round, but a quick fix by his Penske mechanics allowed him make further improvements and he denied Tony Stewart a final qualifying place in doing so.
The Stewart-Haas driver lines up 13th, while defending race winner Kyle Busch could only muster 19th.
Cup debutant Nelson Piquet Jr will start his first top tier race from 32nd.
The former Formula 1 driver has three NASCAR national series wins in his career, including one at a road course in the Nationwide Series at Road America in 2012, but a repeat of that at the Glen looks particularly improbable given that nobody has ever won there from a starting position outside the top 20.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 1m08.126s 2. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 1m08.299s +0.173s 3. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 1m08.389s +0.263s 4. Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 1m08.447s +0.321s 5. Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 1m08.470s +0.344s 6. AJ Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Chevrolet 1m08.531s +0.405s 7. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 1m08.806s +0.680s 8. Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Toyota 1m08.810s +0.684s 9. Brad Keselowski Penske Ford 1m08.878s +0.752s 10. Ryan Newman Childress Chevrolet 1m08.978s +0.852s 11. Joey Logano Penske Ford 1m09.035s +0.909s 12. Brian Vickers Waltrip Toyota 1m09.171s +1.045s 13. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 1m08.796s Round 1 14. Jamie McMurray Ganassi Chevrolet 1m08.836s Round 1 15. Justin Allgaier HScott Chevrolet 1m08.892s Round 1 16. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 1m08.993s Round 1 17. Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Toyota 1m09.024s Round 1 18. Cole Whitt BK Toyota 1m09.060s Round 1 19. Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Toyota 1m09.136s Round 1 20. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet 1m09.137s Round 1 21. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford 1m09.143s Round 1 22. Casey Mears Germain Chevrolet 1m09.273s Round 1 23. Kyle Larson Ganassi Chevrolet 1m09.280s Round 1 24. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota 1m09.297s Round 1 25. Martin Truex Jr Furniture Row Chevrolet 1m09.315s Round 1 26. David Ragan Front Row Ford 1m09.316s Round 1 27. Aric Almirola Petty Ford 1m09.341s Round 1 28. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 1m09.344s Round 1 29. Michael McDowell Leavine Ford 1m09.352s Round 1 30. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet 1m09.442s Round 1 31. Austin Dillon Childress Chevrolet 1m09.548s Round 1 32. Nelson Piquet Humphrey Ford 1m09.605s Round 1 33. David Gilliland Front Row Ford 1m09.611s Round 1 34. Boris Said Go FAS Ford 1m09.684s Round 1 35. Ryan Truex BK Toyota 1m09.719s Round 1 36. Alex Bowman BK Toyota 1m10.098s Round 1 37. Josh Wise Parsons Chevrolet 1m10.242s Round 1 38. Alex Kennedy Circle Sport Chevrolet 1m10.410s Round 1 39. Reed Sorenson Baldwin Chevrolet 1m10.491s Round 1 40. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 1m10.503s Round 1 41. Landon Cassill Hillman Chevrolet 1m10.568s Round 1 42. Michael Annett Baldwin Chevrolet 1m10.571s Round 1 43. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 1m10.585s Round 1