Charlotte Jeff Gordon Qualifying Report

Gordon turns in surprisingly mediocre qualifying effort By Shawn A. Akers CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 30, 1998) What a shocker. It was certainly not what has come to be expected of Jeff Gordon, especially at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The ...

Gordon turns in surprisingly mediocre qualifying effort By Shawn A. Akers

CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 30, 1998) What a shocker. It was certainly not what has come to be expected of Jeff Gordon, especially at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The NASCAR Winston Cup Series points leader, who has won six career Bud Poles at the 1.5-mile tri-oval, turned a fast lap of 178.974, good enough for only the 26th starting position for Sunday's UAW-GM Quality 500 at CMS.

It was only the fourth time this season that Gordon, who has seven Bud Poles this season, has qualified outside the top-10. The last time it happened was in April for the Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, when he qualified 17th.

It's also the first time that Gordon has failed to qualify for a race in the first round this year, and the first time he's failed to do so since the NAPA 500, the season finale last season at Atlanta. Gordon started 29th in the season-opening Daytona, but qualifying for that race takes on a different format.

"We just kind of wanted to get qualifying out of the way," the driver of the No. 24 DuPont Refinishes Chevrolet said. "We knew when we tested here we weren't going to be good qualifying. We thought we could make some gains, and we made big gains during the day. For some reason, I got real, real lose there. We didn't get out of it what we wanted, but we hoped it would be in the top-25. We didn't quite make it, though."

Gordon has three career victories at Charlotte, but none have come in the fall event. Only one of his six career Bud Poles at CMS have come in the fall, too.

"We haven't gotten the job done here in October from the pole, so maybe we don't need to be on the pole," Gordon said. "You can't change your style any when you're battling a guy like Mark Martin for the championship. If you finish fifth to him winning, you're going to lose 30 or 40 ponts. We've got to get the best performance and get all we can out of the car all the way until the end of the season, all the way to Atlanta."

Gordon leads Martin by 199 points in the standings with six races remaining.

In a reversal of fortune, Derrike Cope, the driver of the No. 30 Gumout Pontiac who has failed to qualify for four races this season, won the first Bud Pole of his NASCAR Winston Cup Series career in his 331st start, turning a fast lap of 181.690 mph. He edged out Martin, who turned a quick lap of 181.220 mph.

Gordon will most likely stand on his time and not try to requalify during second-round qualifying for Sunday's race, which gets under way at 1:30 p.m. EDT Thursday. No matter what the decision will be, Gordon will start Sunday's race from the middle of the pack, but don't expect him to stay there very long.

"I'm not real concerned because I know we've got a good race car," Gordon said. "I've heard a lot of guys say that the cars don't feel real comfortable qualifying. We misjudged a little bit, and I got a little bit looser than I was expecting to get for qualifying. I'm disappointed a little bit that we didn't go faster, but I'm thankful to get this out of the way so we can get ready for the race."

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Derrike Cope , Jeff Gordon , Mark Martin