Jeff Gordon made a lap around Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International in 68.126 seconds (129.466 mph) during the second of two rounds of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole qualifying on Saturday to claim the pole starting spot for Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at The Glen. It’s Gordon’s first pole of the season, but the third of his career at Watkins Glen.
“Oh gosh, I am so proud of this pole and the effort the Drive to End Hunger team put in this weekend, as well as that lap,” Gordon said. “Qualifying has raelly been what has been hurting us at Watkins Glen, and I blame myself, really.”
Marcos Ambrose, winner of two of the last three Sprint Cup races at The Glen, will start alongside Gordon on the front row on Sunday after posting the second-fastest lap time in round two. In the first round, though, Ambrose’s 68.113-second/129.491 mph lap wasn’t only the fastest lap of the round, it set a new track qualifying record. In the first round, Kevin Harvick and A.J. Allmendinger were second and third-fastet to Ambrose, while Gordon posted the fourth-fastest lap of the round.
“It was okay,” Ambrose said of his final run during qualifying. “We didn’t get to do a mock run in practice. I don’t know if it would have been any different anyway. Who knows? We just didn’t quite put all the pieces together to make it work.”
Jimmie Johnson will start third on Sunday, sharing the second row with Harvick. Also advancing to round two and qualifying fifth through 12th were Kurt Busch, Allmendinger, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano and Brian Vickers.
Forty-three drivers, the exact number needed for a full Sprint Cup race field made qualifying attempts, so all who were active in qualifying received spots on the starting grid for Sunday’s race.