Gordon earns 80th pole in Hendrick-dominated qualifying

Hendrick Motorsports took four of the top five spots in NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying.

Jeff Gordon led the Hendrick Motorsports juggernaut during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying Saturday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway for Sunday's Geico 500. His 49.160-second lap in the second and final round of qualifying gave Gordon his 80th pole and third of the 2015 season. HMS teammate Kasey Kahne placed second, three tenths adrift of the pole.

"The Hendrick cars are really strong," Kahne said. "The engines are running great."

NASCAR experimented with a hybrid of old-style single-car qualifying and knock-out qualifying at Talladega as they looked to avoid a repeat of the Daytona disaster. Gordon's 49.171-second lap in round one was more than three tenths faster than the next fastest driver of the round, Paul Menard. 

"I like it; it's great," Gordon said of the qualifying format.

Hendrick domination

All four Hendrick drivers, Gordon, Kahne, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson, were among the 12 drivers to advance to the second round, and at the end of qualifying, all four had claimed top-five starting spots, with Earnhardt fourth and Johnson fifth.

The only non-HMS driver to qualify in the top-five was part-time driver Ryan Blaney, who split the quartet in third, which is the Wood Brothers' best starting positing since the July Daytona event in 2011.

Drivers qualifying sixth through 12th include Sewart, Meneard, Matt Kenseth, David Ragan, Bowyer, Casey Mears and Sam Hornish Jr.

The fastest drivers outside the top-12 were Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon and Brad Keselowski, qualifying 13th through 15th.

"If there's a track where that (not making it into the final round of qualifying) matters the least, it's here on Sunday," Keselowski said.

Two drivers failed to make the race -- Jeb Burton (BK Racing) and Michael McDowell (Leavine Family Racing).

POS. CAR #DRIVERSPONSORBEST SPEEDBEST TIMEBEHIND
1 24 Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger 194.793 49.160 Leader
2 5 Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance 193.685 49.441 --0.281
3 21 Ryan Blaney Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center 193.611 49.460 --0.300
4 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr Nationwide 193.599 49.463 --0.303
5 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's 193.427 49.507 --0.347
6 14 Tony Stewart Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats 193.419 49.509 --0.349
7 27 Paul Menard Quaker State / Menards 193.412 49.511 --0.351
8 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General 193.357 49.525 --0.365
9 18 David Ragan Pedigree 193.006 49.615 --0.455
10 15 Clint Bowyer PEAK Commercial & Industrial Toyota Camry 192.808 49.666 --0.506
11 13 Casey Mears No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS 192.703 49.693 --0.533
12 9 Sam Hornish Jr Medallion Bank 192.343 49.786 --0.626
13 42 Kyle Larson Target 192.792 49.670 --0.510
14 3 Austin Dillon Bass Pro Shops 192.789 49.671 --0.511
15 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite 192.777 49.674 --0.514
16 33 Brian Scott Shore Lodge 192.765 49.677 --0.517
17 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express 192.738 49.684 --0.524
18 31 Ryan Newman Caterpillar 192.715 49.690 --0.530
19 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation 192.680 49.699 --0.539
20 16 Greg Biffle Ortho Ford Fusion 192.672 49.701 --0.541
21 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil 192.622 49.714 --0.554
22 19 Carl Edwards Arris 192.587 49.723 --0.563
23 55 Michael Waltrip Aaron's Dream Machine 192.181 49.828 --0.668
24 4 Kevin Harvick Outback Steak House 192.050 49.862 --0.702
25 10 Danica Patrick GoDaddy 191.835 49.918 --0.758
26 6 Trevor Bayne Advocare Ford Fusion 191.727 49.946 --0.786
27 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's 191.627 49.972 --0.812
28 43 Aric Almirola Fresh From Florida 191.616 49.975 --0.815
29 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Fifth Third Bank Ford Fusion 191.581 49.984 --0.824
30 40 Landon Cassill TBA 191.497 50.006 --0.846
31 47 AJ Allmendinger Kroger/Hungry Jack 191.252 50.070 --0.910
32 32 Bobby Labonte C&J Energy Services 191.176 50.090 --0.930
33 62 Brendan Gaughan Diathrive 191.016 50.132 --0.972
34 98 Josh Wise Phoenix Construction 190.757 50.200 --1.040
35 51 Justin Allgaier Brandt 190.738 50.205 --1.045
36 78 Martin Truex Jr Furniture Row/Visser Precision 190.715 50.211 --1.051
37 7 Alex Bowman Golden Corral Chevrolet 190.624 50.235 --1.075
38 34 Chris Buescher CSX / Play It Safe 190.408 50.292 --1.132
39 38 David Gilliland Farm Rich 190.276 50.327 --1.167
40 46 Michael Annett Bene-fit 190.147 50.361 --1.201
41 35 Cole Whitt Speed Stick 189.752 50.466 --1.306
42 23 J.J. Yeley Dr. Pepper 189.242 50.602 --1.442
43 83 Matt DiBenedetto Dustless Blasting 188.850 50.707 --1.547

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Event Talladega
Track Talladega Superspeedway
Drivers Jeff Gordon
Teams Hendrick Motorsports
Article type Qualifying report