Gordon Stays Hot Wins Pole

It was a day of highs and lows on Friday at Richmond International Raceway as Jeff Gordon claimed his third consecutive Bud Pole Award with a fast lap of 126.251 mph for Saturday’s Crown Royal Presents The Jim Stewart 400.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, Dale Jarrett failed to qualify for his first race since the 1994 season.

Gordon will attempt to win his third consecutive race from pole position when he takes the green flag for the Crown Royal Presents The Jim Stewart 400. It’s the sixth time this season he starts from the head of the field after his fast lap of 126.251 mph at the .75-mile track.

"I knew it was a good lap, but I thought that early draw would hurt us," said Gordon, who scored his 61st career pole despite coming out 15th of 50 qualifiers on Friday. "Qualifying is not everything, but it certainly means a lot."

Should the driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet Impala SS go on to win tomorrow’s race, it would be his third victory of 2007 and second in a race that uses the Car of Tomorrow.

In the three previous COT events, Gordon has the best average finish (2.0) and has led 151 laps, third most behind Tony Stewart’s 400 laps and Denny Hamlin’s 372 circuits.

Carl Edwards will line up alongside Gordon on the front row after setting a lap speed of 125.657 mph.

"That was a good run," said Edwards. "That’s a great big step for us and hopefully it holds up for a top four or top five and have a good race. It’s so much fun when it’s going well and so frustrating when it’s not, so, hopefully it’s a good start."

Scott Riggs, leader of today’s sole practice session, Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne round out the top five.

Virginia native and polesitter for tonight’s NASCAR Busch Series event Denny Hamlin will start from the sixth position with defending race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr., Mark Martin and Dave Blaney comprising the remainder of the top-10 starting positions.

Further back in the starting field are fellow Virginia natives Ward Burton (24th), Jeff Burton (39th) and Elliott Sadler (40th).

"We are just so glad to be able to represent Virginia Tech at this track tomorrow," said Ward Burton. "We thought it might be a little close there for a while but we are going to be here and hope to get a good finish for Virginia Tech, State Water Heaters, ITT Night Vision, Morgan-McClure and anybody else that pulls for this team. We’ve made three in a row and it feels good,"

Last year’s polesitter for this event, Greg Biffle, will start 32nd.

At the bottom of the qualifying chart, the story of the day was Dale Jarrett’s failure to make the field.

After using his sixth and final past champion provisional last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, the 1999 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion had to qualify on time. However, with a best lap of 123.226 mph, he failed to do so for the first time since October 2, 1994, at North Wilkesboro Speedway — a span of 424 races.

Joining him on the did not qualify list is his team owner Michael Waltrip, Brian Vickers, Jeremy Mayfield, Ken Schrader, Mike Bliss and Kevin Lepage

The green flag will fall on the Crown Royal Presents The Jim Stewart 400 shortly after 7:30 p.m. Saturday, with live coverage on FOX TV, MRN Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio.

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