Jeff Gordon scores third career Martinsville pole

Jeff Gordon scores third career Martinsville pole

MARTINSVILLE, VA - Third time was the charm for four-time Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon, as he brought the No. 24 Hendrick Chevy home on the pole position for Sunday's short track action at Martinsville. "It's just awesome when you show up...

MARTINSVILLE, VA - Third time was the charm for four-time Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon, as he brought the No. 24 Hendrick Chevy home on the pole position for Sunday's short track action at Martinsville.

"It's just awesome when you show up and unload off the truck and you're close, and you've got guys that trust and believe in you," Gordon said.

Jeff Gordon.
Photo by Richard Sloop.
"The grip came right on the first lap. When I knew that the grip was there, that's when I really just charged for the second lap. That's about as good a lap as I've ever put around Martinsville."

Gordon's lap of 93.307 mph beat the rest of the field by .095 seconds. It is Gordon's first pole this season, third at the .526-mile oval and 43rd of his career.

"Now I know how Ryan Newman felt at Bristol," Gordon said. "I was in the same boat there ... and he just blew us away."

Gordon, who has three wins at Martinsville, looks forward to mixing it up with the outside pole sitter Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

"I enjoy racing with Dale," commented Gordon. He charges hard and he's not afraid to bump and rub, and the fans certainly stand up and enjoy it. We've gotten to be friends and I enjoy racing with him.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr., fresh off his win last weekend at Talladega garnered his best career start at Martinsville.

"The car was there," said Earnhardt. "I just made a little bit of a mistake getting down into one. I over drove it just a little bit. But, it's a great car. They put a lot of effort into this piece. It's really a pleasure to drive it. I should have run just a little bit faster, but that's pretty decent.

"I'm the only driver to get two top fives here last year, so I feel real confident about this weekend."

Ryan Newman, who has started third or better in six of last seven races rolls off third. Newman sat on the pole here last year.

Ryan Newman.
Photo by Richard Sloop.
"He (Gordon) won three of the four poles last year on the half-mile race tracks," said Newman. "He's trying to get back at us I guess because we were the ones who knocked him off of the other one.

"It's a good thing (extra lap) because it gets the tires warmed up and that gets the cars more controllable, but we had the fastest first lap of anybody, so that would have been our second qualifying lap. Take it which ever way you want."

Ken Schrader, and Rusty Wallace will follow the No. 12 Penske Dodge to the green flag.

Reigning Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart starts eighth.

"That was not as good as I would have liked. The car drove the best it has all day. Zippy and the guys did a great job with the Home Depot Monte Carlo. It was just a typical driver deal at Martinsville. It's very easy to overdrive and make mistakes by trying too hard and that's what I did. I just did my normal lap here."

Current series championship points leader Matt Kenseth will start at the back of the pack in 34th position.

"We tried some different stuff and it didn't really work out today. Some of it we probably didn't realize until it was too late to go qualify, so we'll put it back to some more conventional stuff like we used to race here and like what my teammates are racing and we'll work on the race tomorrow. It's just a starting spot and not a finishing spot, so we'll just look at it like that and try to do a better job tomorrow and Sunday."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Ken Schrader , Ryan Newman