Gordon claims pole

Jeff Gordon, in championship form at the head of the home stretch, racked up his sixth pole of the season with a sub-15sec lap on Friday evening and will start from pole in Saturday night's Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway

Gordon claims pole

Gordon fell just short of Ryan Newman's 2003 track-record timing of 14.903sec, the first under-15 lap in track history. Gordon rounded the half-mile concrete fishbowl in 14.930s, which averages to 128.520mph. Gordon, winning his 52nd career pole, had been the only driver under the 15sec mark in afternoon practice.

Gordon, who took over the points lead last week at Michigan, also has five victories this season. After the trials, Gordon said: "I think I want to make it six and six this weekend." Gordon also has won five times at Bristol and is eyeing a sixth victory here. His next victory will be the 70th of his career.

Gordon beat out Kasey Kahne, robbed of a win here in April as a result of a crash. Sterling Marlin scored a season-best third, with Newman fourth and Jamie McMurray fifth.

Kahne, who ran 15.060s (127.410), crashed in the subsequent practice. He and team members believed they could put the car back together. If forced to use a back-up, Kahne would start at the rear.

Michael Waltrip, Brendan Gaughan and privateer Tony Ave also crashed in qualifying, with Ave's team withdrawing the entry. Jimmie Johnson's hard luck continued. After suffered failed engines the past three races and falling out of the points lead, he qualified 11th, then banged the wall in the late practice. The team pulled out its back-up car, and has to wondering what gives.

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