Gordon sweeps to Martinsville pole

Jeff Gordon won his first pole of the season and his first since last summer at Bristol on Friday, outrunning all entrants by a tenth of a second in qualifying for the Virginia 500 at Martinsville Speedway

Gordon sweeps to Martinsville pole

Gordon lapped the 0.526-mile oval, NASCAR's smallest, in 20.079sec (94.307mph), knocking Dale Earnhardt Jr off the pole. Earnhardt had seized the top spot from Ken Schrader with a lap of 20.174s.

The margin at the top was notable, as timing at Martinsville is usually very close, measured in hundredths and thousandths rather than tenths. Gordon continued his dominance of qualifying at short tracks, winning three of four poles last year and timing second at Bristol last month.

At Bristol, Ryan Newman topped the field by two-tenths, with Gordon second. Newman qualified third on Friday.

"Now I know how Ryan Newman felt at Bristol," Gordon grinned. "I was in the same boat there, where we put a pretty good lap out there and he just blew us away. I was as surprised today by that lap as anybody else. With the cooler conditions, I had trouble all day long getting heat into the tires. The guys made a few adjustments. I don't know if it was a different air pressure that we ran in qualifying or what, but the grip came right on the first lap.

"It just did everything I wanted it to do. That's about as good of a lap as I think I've ever put around Martinsville."

Gordon has won four of the past six short-track poles, starting second and 10th in the other two. Schrader ended up fourth, backing up his third spot at Bristol. Rusty Wallace was fifth and Joe Nemechek sixth.

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