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Jeff Gordon buries Michigan track record, earns Sprint Cup pole for Sunday

Aug 15, 2014, 6:02 PM EDT

Cheez-It 355 At The Glen - Practice Getty Images

Jeff Gordon collected his second consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole this afternoon with a new track record lap of 206.558 miles per hour at Michigan International Speedway – a lap that also now stands as the seventh-fastest pole of all time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Gordon and Team Penske’s Joey Logano (206.381 mph) will make up the front row for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 after they and several others obliterated Kevin Harvick‘s old MIS record of 204.557 mph multiple times in the three rounds of qualifying.

Carl Edwards, who will start third on Sunday, was the first to break Harvick’s record in Round 1 with a 205.169 mph lap.

Then in Round 2, Logano raised the bar with a lap of 205.491 mph. Harvick then posted a 205.620 mph lap to reclaim the record for himself, but a lap of 205.885 mph allowed Gordon to swipe it.

Finally in Round 3, Logano (206.381) and Edwards (206.115) both broke Gordon’s mark – only to have Gordon eclipse them both with his monster 206.5 lap around the two-mile MIS oval.

“We made a qualifying effort in practice that didn’t go so well, then we made another one and it wasn’t bad,” Gordon said to MRN Radio after his 76th career Sprint Cup pole. “I wasn’t sure what I was gonna have when we rolled out here for qualifying, but the first lap was just really, really good.

“I felt like I needed to be more aggressive, and the next two runs, I was able to be aggressive and those guys made great adjustments. Man, the thing just stuck [to the race track] so well. That’s a lot of fun when it’s stuck like that.”

Edwards and Brian Vickers will make up Row 2, followed by Michigan native Brad Keselowski and Harvick in Row 3. Richard Childress Racing’s Paul Menard and Austin Dillon start from Row 4, and Jamie McMurray and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. complete the Top 10 spots on the grid.

Some big names failed to make it out of the first round, however, and will have to start from the back of the field on Sunday. Chief among them are two of Gordon’s Hendrick Motorsports teammates, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and June Michigan winner Jimmie Johnson, who will go from 25th and 30th respectively.

“The car’s pretty good – just the second run there, we expected to go out and actually run quite a bit quicker and just didn’t have any rear grip,” Earnhardt told MRN. “Really sliding around in the back and just didn’t run a fast lap.

“We feel good about the race car in race trim. I actually think we should’ve definitely qualified much better, but we didn’t get it done…I think we understand the changes that the track’s gonna make and we prepared for those, and we didn’t do a good enough job, I guess.”

Jeff Burton, substituting for Tony Stewart this weekend, qualified 27th for Sunday’s race. Ryan Blaney qualified Trevor Bayne‘s car in 28th, while Matt Crafton qualified 39th in Martin Truex Jr.‘s car.

Qualifying Results

1. 24-Jeff Gordon
2. 22-Joey Logano
3. 99-Carl Edwards
4. 55-Brian Vickers
5. 2-Brad Keselowski
6. 4-Kevin Harvick
7. 27-Paul Menard
8. 3-Austin Dillon
9. 1-Jamie McMurray
10. 17-Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
11. 16-Greg Biffle
12. 31-Ryan Newman
13. 42-Kyle Larson
14. 10-Danica Patrick
15. 5-Kasey Kahne
16. 41-Kurt Busch
17. 51-Justin Allgaier
18. 20-Matt Kenseth
19. 15-Clint Bowyer
20. 9-Marcos Ambrose
21. 11-Denny Hamlin
22. 47-A.J. Allmendinger
23. 43-Aric Almirola
24. 18-Kyle Busch
25. 88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.
26. 13-Casey Mears
27. 14-Jeff Burton
28. 21-Ryan Blaney
29. 38-David Gilliland
30. 48-Jimmie Johnson
31. 83-Ryan Truex
32. 23-Alex Bowman
33. 98-Josh Wise
34. 34-David Ragan
35. 7-Michael Annett
36. 26-Cole Whitt
37. 37-Dave Blaney
38. 32-Travis Kvapil
39. 78-Matt Crafton
40. 36-Reed Sorenson
41. 33-Alex Kennedy
42. 66-Joe Nemechek
43. 40-Landon Cassill

  1. jinx21fan - Aug 15, 2014 at 7:00 PM

    I really hope Jeff can race his way to “The Drive For Five”!

    • sportsfan18 - Aug 15, 2014 at 8:40 PM

      If he could be honest about it I wonder if he’d like to win 106 races to be #2 all time or win his 5th championship but not get to 105/106 wins…

      OF course he’d say the championship as everyone races to win.

      But he has 4 of those and I wonder if he’d like to be #2 all time in wins as many would think that would make him first as so many of the “Kings” were against inferior competition and much fewer cars.

      • jinx21fan - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:08 PM

        I’m not going to pretend to be an educated fan of NASCAR. I like Jeff Gordon, and try and follow him a bit. People that don’t like him as a racer should at least give him credit for promoting the sport. I seen him on Letterman and he was engaging and articulate (not knocking NASCAR, knocking athletes in general).

        Anyways, he probably would say the Championship. Let’s hope it’s not an either/or thing and he can get to both goals!

      • B Oldfield - Aug 17, 2014 at 9:00 AM

        I don’t buy into that argument that Petty’s wins were against inferior competition at all. It’s just that during Petty’s heyday, Petty Enterprises was like Hendrick Motorsports is today, but it was mostly run as a single car team. Whenever they ran a 2nd car it was usually just as fast as the 43.

        Petty’s competition not only included a who’s who of NASCAR legends, but he also had to race against guys like Foyt, Andretti and Gurney a lot of the time too. Petty’s success was because drove smooth and smart and managed to be around at the end, just like like Jimmy Johnson does now, but he was also a winner for 25 years of his 35 year career.

        There used to be a lot more races back in the ’60s when they ran on average over 50 races a season and Petty racked up a lot of his wins. The 36 race season they have now is short compared to the 60 races they had in ’64.

    • worknman24hours - Aug 15, 2014 at 8:55 PM

      I just want his damn car to run right the whole race.

      Suddenly,Jeff’s got the bad luck monkey riding his back and it ain’t been funny watching it tear up his chances of winning races.

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