Gordon Wins Charlotte Pole
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on October 10, 2013 | 8:38 P.M. EST
Gordon grabbed his 74th career pole in his 720th start. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)
CONCORD, N.C. - Jeff Gordon’s Chase surge continued, winning the pole Thursday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
He claimed his second pole of the season with a lap of 194.308 mph. Gordon benefitted from being the last car to qualify, giving him cooler temperatures for his run, but he had been fast in practice earlier in the day.
“There’s nothing greater than when it’s all on the line,’’ Gordon said. “You’re the final car to go, you had a great practice. There’s nothing worse than letting (the team) down, and there’s nothing better than stepping up and knocking it out of the park. That’s what I felt we did.’’
He scored his ninth career pole at Charlotte, tying him with Ryan Newman for second on the track’s all-time list. David Pearson holds the record with 14 poles.
This comes as Gordon, added to the Chase as the 13th competitor, has climbed to fourth in the point standings entering this weekend.
“We’ve come together,’’ Gordon said of his team. “Our cars are just performing better and now we’re able to build some positive confidence and momentum that we were lacking earlier in the season.’’
Kevin Harvick, using the same car he won with last weekend at Kansas, qualified second. Greg Biffle qualified third with Jimmie Johnson fourth and Kasey Kahne fifth.
“Turning the car around couldn’t have come at a worse week,’’ Harvick said, noting that the team split its crew with half going to a test at Martinsville and others going with the car through NASCAR’s post-race inspection process Tuesday at the R&D Center.
“They basically rebuilt the car and put it back together,’’ Harvick said. “Everybody wants to win. Qualifying well for us was a huge benefit last week with that first pit stall. We wanted to be greedy and get that again.’’
Points leader Matt Kenseth will start 20th. He was the first car in the qualifying order, a disadvantage compared to those who go later. Kenseth, though, didn’t blame the draw for his worst starting spot since Pocono in August.
“We just weren’t very good,’’ he said. “Got a lot of work to do.’’
Dale Earnhardt Jr. celebrated his 39th birthday by qualifying sixth. Saturday marks his 500th career Cup start.
“Right where we needed to be,’’ he said. “I think we’ve got a good racecar this weekend. That gives us a great starting position and pit selection.’’
Newman qualified seventh with Juan Pablo Montoya eighth, Kyle Busch ninth and Kurt Busch 10th.
Kyle Larson, making his first Cup start, qualified 21st. He’s preparing for next season when he replaces Juan Pablo Montoya at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. Brian Scott, also making his Cup debut, will start 19th. Blake Koch starts 43rd in his first Cup race.
“It feels right now like another step, another chapter of my life,’’ said Larson, who also will drive for Phoenix Racing at Martinsville and may add a third race to his Cup schedule before the season ends.