MARTINSVILLE, Va. - Jeff Gordon went out second to take his time-trial lap, but held on to the top spot through 43 cars to secure the pole for Sunday's Martinsville 500. It is Gordon's third pole in a row at Martinsville, and fourth consecutive...
MARTINSVILLE, Va. - Jeff Gordon went out second to take his time-trial lap, but held on to the top spot through 43 cars to secure the pole for Sunday's Martinsville 500. It is Gordon's third pole in a row at Martinsville, and fourth consecutive for the spring event.
Gordon's lap of 93.502 mph secured his 47th career pole.
"What an awesome job by this Dupont Chevrolet team," said Gordon. "I couldn't be more proud of them. To come up here with a new tire and go out second, it's pretty amazing."
Jamie McMurray missed the pole by just .057 seconds, and will start on the outside pole.
"We're going to try to stay up front all day long and stay out of trouble," said McMurray of his plans for Sunday. "We tested here a couple of weeks ago and had as good a test as we could have. I'm really looking forward to getting in race trim tomorrow and making some laps."
Ryan Newman, who leads the series in poles this season with three, was third fastest with a lap of 93.102 mph.
"We had a pretty good lap," Newman said. "We had a little problem getting off turn four. It seems like you can always beat a guy getting into the corners here. Getting off the corner is the key. I think we'll have a good car for Sunday's race. That's what we're looking forward to.
"We came up here and tested for one day, and I think we learned some things. Hopefully we can apply those things more to race trim than qualifying trim. This is a finesse racetrack I believe. I think it's the only place where you're on the brakes more than you are on the gas. That's what makes it tough."
A speed of 93.015 mph helped Dale Earnhardt, Jr. earn the fourth starting spot.
"I've never won at Martinsville," Earnhardt said. "But it seems we're getting closer and closer (to a win) every time we go there. Last year was pretty awesome. We led a bunch of laps and finished in the top-five in both races. It's fun to drive at that ol' place. It's a tough track, and you really have to be 'on' for 500 laps to avoid getting the car beat up. You can come in with all the confidence in the world, but it takes almost no time to be taken out of the race."
Kevin Harvick completes the top five with a lap of 93.001 mph.
"It's hard to get a good finish without having something happen to you," said Harvick. "Our goal is to survive, keep the fenders on it, and radiator in it. If you are not around after 400 laps into the race, you are not going to have a chance of winning it."
Championship point leader Kurt Busch will roll off seventh.
"We've got a long regular season," said Busch of leading series standings for the first time in his career. "We have to put ourselves in contention for the playoffs at the end of the year, so it's a whole new way to look at the points this year and right now we've got a good start so we'll take it."
Forty-four cars attempted to qualify; failing to make the show was the No. 198 of Todd Bodine.