NASCAR saved the best for last during Sprint Cup Series pole qualifying on Thursday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Saturday's Bank of America 500 at the track. The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Jeff Gordon was the last of 43 cars to hit the track for a qualifying run, and Gordon put up a lap time of 27.791 seconds to claim the pole.
"Man, that was awesome," Gordon said. "It's been awhile since we done a pole at Charlotte."
Just slightly slower than Gordon in qualifying was another driver who went out late. The No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick made his qualifying run just ahead of Gordon and posted a lap time of 27.806 seconds and wound up second. The No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Greg Biffle qualified third.
"We knew we needed to qualify better in the Chase," Harvick said. "And they're (his No. 29 team) bringing the cars to do that."
One of Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports teammates, Kasey Kahne in the No. 5 Chevrolet, was the second driver on the track in qualifying. Although Kahne didn't match his fast time from practice earlier in the day, he was able to put up a lap fast enough to put himself on the provisional pole, a spot he maintained until Biffle went out 38th and bettered Kahne's lap.
"The way the draw went, there were a lot of fast cars going out late," Gordon said.
In the end, Kahne wound up fifth. Biffle and then Harvick each briefly enjoyed the provisional pole spot before Gordon's ultimate pole winning lap.
"I didn't know if it was going to be good enough, and when I found out it was that close was so amazing," Gordon said.
Although the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson never experienced the provisional pole on Thursday night, he did better Kahne with his late run and wound up qualifying fourth.
All four Hendrick drivers wound up in the top-10, with the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualifying sixth. The No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet of Ryan Newman was seventh. Juan Montoya was the only non-Chase for the Sprint Cup competitor to qualify in the top-10, turning in the eighth-fastest lap. Rounding out the top-10 in qualifying were the Busch brothers, with Kyle Busch qualifying ninth in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and Kurt Busch 10th in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet.