Jeff Gordon has collected Hendrick Motorsports' 200th Sprint Cup pole.
Homestead, Fla. – Jeff Gordon scored the pole in NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifications at the Homestead-Miami Speedway shortly after sundown on Friday evening. The speed runs were being run to set the starting line-up for Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost, the race that will decide the 2014 Sprint Cup champion.
For Gordon, he got the pole on the 1.5-mile track with a speed of 180.747 miles per hour. The former champion earned his first pole at HMS, and he gave his Hendrick Motorsports team its 200th pole. Gordon has earned 77 of the poles, doing so in 761 races. He was driving the Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet.
Said Gordon, “I am blown away with the pole, as this is one of the toughest places to get a pole for me over the years. Having three rounds of qualifying helped me a lot, and the team did a good job with tuning to get it ready for the last round. I knew we had a pretty good car in practice today when we made a decent run during daytime practice. In the second round, I tried to do the same thing I did in the first run but it didn’t quite stick, making me a little bit nervous.”
200 poles for Hendrick
Regarding the 200th pole, “Today’s performance showed why we have 200 poles. It is a great organization, and we never quit. We always bring great race cars and power to the race track, and we take poles very seriously as they are hard to get. It is a lot of work but a great reward.”
Kurt Busch qualified second fastest at 180.632 mph in the Haas Automation Chevrolet.
“It was a tremendous set of laps,” he said. “With the new format, you have to make three laps that will give you a shot at the pole, but we came home a little bit short. Congratulations to Jeff Gordon, who laid down a perfect lap. I felt like we put down a really great lap and to do it with Tony Gibson and this new group of guys in our third race together is great. It shows all the signs are pointed in the right direction for next season.”
Matt Kenseth timed third with Brad Keselowski fourth.
Keselowski walked away with the track record, posting a speed of 181.238 mph in the first round of knock-out qualifying, to break Jamie McMurray’s 2003 standard of 181.111 mph.
Chase finalist Kevin Harvick raced into the fifth starting position with Clint Bowyer sixth.
Kyle Busch and Chase finalist Denny Hamlin gained the next two spots followed by Chase finalist Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson.
With the spotlight on the Chase finalists, all but Ryan Newman ran well. He ended up 21st in line after experiencing a tight car. Also, his team had to replace a deflating front tire just before qualifications.
Said Newman, “Today was actually all good, but none of it was great. That second run wasn’t what we wanted. At that point, it was difficult to get a good re-fire with the tires and make any gains to make it back in with hot tires. We start 21st and but I don’t think that’s the end of our day.”
He went on to say that his team has 267 laps to get the job done on Sunday.
Having the fifth fastest qualifying speed, Harvick took the honors among the Final Four field. Said last week’s race winner, “We had a good day, going back and forth on the balance of the car. With the second round, I didn’t get quite everything I needed out of it and same in last round. All-in-all it was a solid day and the car has good speed in race trim. We got a good starting spot and a good pit stall. Now we will just go out and have another solid day tomorrow and get prepared for the race.”
Added Hamlin, who qualified eighth and won the 2013 HMS race, “Today kind of went like most of the year has gone for us, blazing fast for the first couple of laps which helped us in qualifying.”
Logano felt lucky to end up ninth fastest, thinking at one point that wouldn’t be fast enough. “We had an OK day today. We unloaded in race trim and had good speed in the car but the speed didn’t transfer in qualifying trim. I didn’t have speed until the 22 bunch put their heads together, made some good changes and found some good speed. We were third in the first round, which surprised the heck out of me as I was just hoping to make it out of first round.”
In the first of three rounds of knock-out qualifying, Keselowski led the way with a record speed of 181.238 mph. Chase finalists Harvick and Logano were next fastest followed by Kurt Busch, Gordon, Truex, Hamlin, Kyle Busch¸ Kenseth, Newman, Dillon and Bowyer.
Kurt Busch the way in the 10-minute second round, one that reduced the qualifying field to the 12 fastest cars. He registered a speed of 181.196 mph. Chasing him were Johnson, Keselowski, Truex, Hamlin, Kenseth, Gordon, Earnhardt, Harvick, Kyle Busch, Bowyer and Logano.
Hamlin and Logano moved into the top 12 with last minute rapid runs.