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Qualifying Report: Gordon On Point At Charlotte



Jeff Gordon made a statement Thursday night under the lights, he’s not done with the 2013 season just yet. Gordon put his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet on the pole position for Saturday night’s race with a lap of 27.791 seconds. It is his ninth career pole at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and 74th of his storied career.

“Man, that was awesome. It’s been a while since we’ve had a pole here at Charlotte as well as doing it in that fashion. The way that the draw was today, there’s a lot of fast cars going late in qualifying. But when you didn’t see the lap times picking up as much as we thought they were going to, I didn’t know if that late draw was going to really be a big factor. But I saw that the guys ahead of me were putting down good laps and I knew the grip was there and what the car did in practice. And the guys just did an phenomenal job on our Axalta Chevrolet all day long making good adjustments. The car just did everything I wanted it to do,” Gordon told reporters after being award the Coors Light Pole Awrd.

Joining him on the front row is the most recent Sprint Cup Series winner, Kevin Harvick. “I felt like I didn’t get everything in (Turns) 3 and 4. I knew from the way things were going and the way practice was that I needed to try to get everything that I could n (Turns) 1 and 2 and not get tight coming off of Turn 4 and I probably lost the pole right there. I’ve just got to thank all these guys on my Jimmy John’s Chevy. They’ve done a great job. We knew we needed to qualify better in the Chase. We knew we needed to run better on the 1.5-mile race tracks and they’re capitalizing on last week and doing that. We would really have liked to have the pole tonight. But everybody knows how we have qualified in the past and to be on the front row is a great benefit for us.”

Starting third is Greg Biffle, the only non-Chevrolet team in the top-5 starting positions. “I wasn’t on the pole as long as I wanted to be.  I was on there for about two cars or so, but, I tell you what, I was very surprised the track didn’t have more grip than it did watching all those guys go.  So I was using the Kevin Harvick mentality of don’t try for more than what the track is giving everybody right now.”

Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. make up the fourth, fifth, and sixth starting spots.

Johnson was very happy with his lap and chances Saturday. “That was really nice.  I was really happy with that lap.  Great pick up we made some good adjustments to get the car right.  I’m not sure many guys have picked up two almost three tenths in the session so we did the right things.  I’m excited.”

Conversely, Kahne was disappointed that he might have left something on the table during his lap. “Turns 1 and 2 were way better than I did in practice, but worse than (Turns) 3 and 4. So that’s why I kind of equaled out. I just got a little tight off and I couldn’t go back to wide-open soon enough. It was still a good lap for our Quaker State Chevrolet. It’s just not quite where I want it to be.”

Birthday boy Earnhardt, who turned 39 Thursday and will make his 500th Sprint Cup Series career start Saturday, echoed Kahne that something was left out there. “Our National Guard Chevy was pretty good all day and I thought we made some good adjustments in between practice and qualifying. I think I underdrove Turn 2 a little bit. We had a real right car through that corner and I just feel like I underdrove it a little bit.”

He continued on the milestone 500th race. “it’s not that big of a milestone to me.  I just hope I’m around for at least 250 or 500 more.  I’ve really been blessed to have the opportunity to do what I do.  I feel thankful every weekend to be able to get in some of the best cars in the series.  I really mean that from my heart.  It’s truly been a dream career for me and I never took it for granted that I would be driving race cars all my life and be able to make a living doing it.  I’m real thankful and it makes me reflect on that kind of thing.”

With only 43 entries, no drivers missed the race. Three drivers will be making their Sprint Cup Series debuts in this race. Brian Scott (19th) for Richard Childress Racing, Kyle Larson (21st) for Phoenix Racing, and Blake Koch (43rd) for Leavine Family Racing.

Scott is very excited to finally be making his first Cup start. “I don’t really remember much of it. I remember I was not breathing as well as I normally do (laughs).  It was exciting. This Chevy SS has a lot of power and it’s just fun to get behind the wheel obviously to enjoy this moment and make my first Sprint Cup Series start is really cool. I’m proud to do it with Chevrolet. And happy to be doing double duty. We have a really good Camaro in the Nationwide Series. This car, I think, is going to be good when we go into race trim. The guys have done a phenomenal job. They’ve given me a car that I can learn a lot in and the car is obviously better than my ability now.”

The Bank Of America 500 from the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The action gets underway Saturday night at 7:30 PM EST and can be seen on ABC.

Pos # Driver Team Time
1 24 Jeff Gordon Axalta Chevrolet 27.791
2 29 Kevin Harvick Jimmy John’s Chevrolet 27.806
3 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford 27.841
4 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s Dover White Chevrolet 27.865
5 5 Kasey Kahne Quaker State Chevrolet 27.879
6 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Time Warner Cable Chevrolet 27.902
7 39 Ryan Newman Quicken Loans Chevrolet 27.913
8 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet 27.919
9 18 Kyle Busch M&M’s Toyota 27.921
10 78 Kurt Busch Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet 27.963
11 43 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 27.980
12 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil/Hertz Ford 27.983
13 27 Paul Menard Menards/Duracell Chevrolet 28.015
14 15 Clint Bowyer Raspberry 5-Hour Energy Toyota 28.020
15 99 Carl Edwards Fastenal Ford 28.041
16 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. My Best Buy Ford 28.072
17 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota 28.091
18 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Ground Toyota 28.107
19 33 Brian Scott Shore Lodge Chevrolet 28.122
20 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General Toyota 28.126
21 51 Kyle Larson Target Chevrolet 28.131
22 14 Mark Martin Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet 28.157
23 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford 28.162
24 47 Bobby Labonte Scott Products Toyota 28.179
25 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald’s Chevrolet 28.189
26 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet 28.203
27 55 Brian Vickers Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota 28.278
28 13 Casey Mears GEICO Ford 28.333
29 9 Marcos Ambrose Bostitch Ford 28.339
30 34 David Ragan Taco Bell Ford 28.369
31 30 Cole Whitt Swan Energy Toyota 28.370
32 40 Landon Cassill Moonshine Attitude Attire Chevrolet 28.470
33 35 Josh Wise MDS Transport Ford 28.542
34 38 David Gilliland Long John Silver’s Ford 28.561
35 10 Danica Patrick GoDaddy Breast Cancer Awareness Chevrolet 28.583
36 83 David Reutimann Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota 28.631
37 98 Michael McDowell Phil Parsons Racing Ford Owner Points
38 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota Owner Points
39 7 Dave Blaney Breast Cancer Awareness Chevrolet Owner Points
40 32 Timmy Hill U.S. Chrome Ford Owner Points
41 93 Travis Kvapil Dr.Pepper Toyota Owner Points
42 36 JJ Yeley United Mining Equipment Chevrolet Owner Points
43 95 Blake Koch Ford Owner Points