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.
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 #||DRIVER||SPONSOR||BEST SPEED||BEST TIME||BEHIND|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|26||6||Trevor Bayne||Advocare Ford Fusion||191.727||49.946||--0.786|
|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|
|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|
|34||98||Josh Wise||Phoenix Construction||190.757||50.200||--1.040|
|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|
|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|