Gordon Scores Number Four
April 16, 2004 | 9:28 A.M. EST
Gordon continued his Martinsville mastery with a lap of 93.502 mph Friday in his Hendrick Motorsports DuPont Chevrolet, his third Bud Pole in a row. It was the four-time Nextel Cup champion's fifth career Bud Pole at the .526-mile speedway. The pole is the 47th of Gordon's career - 13th on a short track - and first of the season.
"It was a little bit different today with the tires being a bit softer," said Gordon. "We had to make some adjustments to it. It wasn't where it needed to be. We tweaked on it. Right there towards the end of practice I felt like we hit on some things. If you have confidence in your driving and the team has confidence in setting up the car, it just makes the chemistry that much better and everybody's on the same page as far as communications goes."
Gordon’s pole also comes in the weekend that Hendrick Motorsports will celebrate its first-ever Cup Series win. Geoffrey Bodine will be on hand Sunday to make a special parade lap in the No. 5 All-Star Racing Chevrolet, the same car Bodine won with on April 29, 1984.
"This week's Martinsville race is a very special event for us here at Hendrick Motorsports," said Rick Hendrick. "Twenty years ago at this race was our first win. We showed up at Martinsville with an unsponsored car. It was a pivotal time and a pivotal race because we didn't know if we could make it all the way through the year."
Jamie McMurray captured his first top-10 start at Martinsville after he qualifed the Ganassi Racing Havoline Dodge second.
"We struggled last year in qualifying, and that's something we really wanted to work on this year," said McMurray. "We unloaded today and really weren't that good off the truck, but Donnie (Wingo - crew chief) made some good adjustments and we put together a good lap."
Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five.
Ward Burton, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Elliott Sadler and Jeremy Mayfield completed the first ten qualifiers.
Rookie Kasey Kahne's streak of qualifying in the top-five ended at three races after he turned the 15th fastest lap in the No. 9 Dodge.
Tony Stewart, who currently holds the track-qualifying record at Martinsville, qualified 30th after he posted a speed of 91.971 mph in the Home Depot Chevrolet. Other notables that will start in the rear of the field include Dale Jarrett, Ken Schrader, Jeff Burton, Terry Labonte and Ricky Craven.
Michael Waltrip was one of five drivers that included Derrike Cope, Andy Hillenburg, Morgan Shepherd and Todd Bodine that used provisionals to make the 43-car field.
"It's a real concern that we were that slow," said Waltrip. "My grip went away - the front was skatey and the rear was skatey."
Kirk Shelmerdine failed to qualify for the 500-lap race after he posted a time of 21.463 seconds in the No. 72 Ford.
Sunday's Advance Auto Parts 500 will take the green flag at 1 p.m. (ET).