Jeff Gordon claimed his 70th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career pole in qualifying for Sunday's race at Talladega, leading a top-four sweep by Hendrick Motorsports.
The most successful active driver at the 2.66-mile track set a best time of 53.723 seconds at an average speed of 178.248 mph, beating the previous benchmark set by his Hendrick team-mate Mark Martin. Jimmie Johnson then got closest to Gordon's time but the four-time champion edged his old pupil by over a tenth to claim his second pole position ever at Talladega.
With Dale Earnhardt Jr ending up fourth after initially holding pole position, Hendrick Motorsports became only the third team in Cup history to complete a top-four sweep of the grid, the last time being at Fontana in 2005 by Roush Fenway Racing.
"Obviously I didn't have to do a whole lot with it," said Gordon about his lap. "We didn't even make a qualifying run [in practice], just held it wide open and very impressed to see 1-2-3-4 from Hendrick Motorsports. Ironic too, because me and Markhave been working together in practice and he's now right behind me.
"I expect the #48 [Johnson] and #88 [Earnhardt] to work together there nose to tail. It's a great way to get the weekend started."
Richard Childress Racing's Paul Menard was fifth fastest, while Phoenix Racing's rookie Landon Cassill was sixth with a Hendrick engine, ensuring a top-six sweep for Chevrolet.
David Ragan's Ford was best of the rest in seventh for Roush Fenway Racing ahead of the Penske Dodge of Kurt Busch, the Red Bull Toyota of Brian Vickers and the RCR Chevrolet of Clint Bowyer, the most recent winner at the track.
Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne was 11th fastest for Wood Brothers, ahead of Michael Waltrip, the fastest of the non-guaranteed drivers, followed by Earnhardt Ganassi's Juan Pablo Montoya.
Mike Skinner, Tony Raines and Michael McDowell failed to qualify, while Robby Gordon's car was driven by Sam Hornish Jr after the Californian failed to make it to Talladega on time on Friday due to the weather. Hornish qualified the car but his times were disallowed after the car failed height checks during inspection.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 53.723s 2. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 53.845s + 0.122s 3. Mark Martin Hendrick Chevrolet 53.856s + 0.133s 4. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 53.869s + 0.146s 5. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet 53.888s + 0.165s 6. Landon Cassill Phoenix Chevrolet 53.893s + 0.170s 7. David Ragan Roush Fenway Ford 53.968s + 0.245s 8. Kurt Busch Penske Dodge 53.986s + 0.263s 9. Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota 53.989s + 0.266s 10. Clint Bowyer Childress Chevrolet 53.994s + 0.271s 11. Trevor Bayne Wood Brothers Ford 53.994s + 0.271s 12. Michael Waltrip Waltrip Toyota 54.005s + 0.282s 13. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 54.046s + 0.323s 14. David Reutimann Waltrip Toyota 54.058s + 0.335s 15. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 54.065s + 0.342s 16. AJ Allmendinger Petty Ford 54.075s + 0.352s 17. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 54.079s + 0.356s 18. Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet 54.083s + 0.360s 19. Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge 54.092s + 0.369s 20. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 54.100s + 0.377s 21. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 54.141s + 0.418s 22. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 54.195s + 0.472s 23. Ryan Newman Stewart Haas Chevrolet 54.206s + 0.483s 24. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 54.232s + 0.509s 25. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford 54.249s + 0.526s 26. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota 54.262s + 0.539s 27. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet 54.267s + 0.544s 28. Travis Kvapil Front Row Ford 54.278s + 0.555s 29. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota 54.295s + 0.572s 30. Tony Stewart Stewart Haas Chevrolet 54.302s + 0.579s 31. Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota 54.317s + 0.594s 32. Kevin Conway NEMCO Toyota 54.349s + 0.626s 33. Steve Park Baldwin Chevrolet 54.359s + 0.636s 34. Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota 54.428s + 0.705s 35. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet 54.469s + 0.746s 36. Joey Logano Gibbs Toyota 54.592s + 0.869s 37. Andy Lally TRG Chevrolet 54.611s + 0.888s 38. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet 54.672s + 0.949s 39. David Gilliland Front Row Ford 54.678s + 0.955s 40. Casey Mears* Germain Toyota 54.847s + 1.124s 41. Terry Labonte* FAS Lane Ford 54.949s + 1.226s 42. Sam Hornish Jr* Gordon Dodge 43. Bill Elliott** Whitney Chevrolet Did not qualify: Mike Skinner Germain Toyota 54.692s + 0.969s Tony Raines Front Row Ford 54.720s + 0.997s Michael McDowell HP Toyota 54.770s + 1.047s * Qualified via owners' points standings ** Qualified via champion's provisional