By AMANDA VINCENT
Jeff Gordon claimed his fourth pole of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season on Saturday when he posted a 49.234-second/194.500 mph lap during the second of two rounds of single-car qualifying at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway for Sunday’s CampingWorld.com 500. It’s is fifth-career pole at Talladega.
“I did know we had a fast car, but I wasn’t sure,” Gordon said. “This is a different car than what we had here earlier this year. I mean, everybody felt confident in the car and it was really fast in the drafting sessions, but we weren’t exactly sure when we made a mock qualifying run if we had what it took for the pole. But after that first run, I knew the boys did what they do. They just are so good at all the details, and it goes all the way back to the engine shop, everybody at Hendrick Motorsports and everybody at the 24/5 shop and even our teammates, 48 and 88.”
Hendrick Motorsports swept the top-three starting spots with Kasey Kahne taking second to start alongside Gordon on the front row Sunday. Jimmie Johnson qualified third and Dale Earnhardt Jr. was fifth.
“I think Dale is going to be really good,” Kahne said. “He was the guy to beat the first race here, and Jeff is obviously really fast and so is Jimmie, so it should be a good day for Hendrick Motorsports.”
The one non-Hendrick driver to qualify was Matt Kenseth in fourth.
Seven of the 12 remaining Chase for the Sprint Cup drivers posted top-12 laps in the first round to advance to round two to contend for top-12 spots on the race starting grid. Joining Gordon, Kenseth and Earnhardt as Chasers in the top-12 at the green flag on Sunday will be Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin in seventh and eighth and Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski in 10th and 11th.
Gordon also was the fastest in the first round of qualifying, with a 49.296-second/194.255 mph lap in the opening round. Kahne, like in the final round, was also second to Gordon in round one. As a matter-of-fact, the top-five drivers in the final round that set the front six rows were the same five drivers to post the five-fastest laps in the first round, but with Kenseth and Johnson in reverse order.
Chaser Martin Truex Jr. will start the farthest back of any Chaser, as he’ll start last on Sunday after his qualifying lap in the first round was disallowed because he went below the yellow line, out of bounds at Talladega. After climbing out of his car, Truex said that he was unaware the move was illegal during qualifying.
“Well, the last couple of times we have been here, we have run on the apron through the tri-oval,” Truex said. “Apparently, there was a memo sent out, and I never got it. I don’t really know what to say.”
Justin Allgaier also will start near the back of the field. He was only able to muster the 39th-best lap after his car was damaged on pit road when Clint Bowyer accidently put his car in reverse and backed into Allgaier’s No. 51 HScott Motorsports Chevrolet.
Here’s the complete starting grid for the CampingWorld.com 500:
Row 1 — Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Chevrolet), Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Chevrolet)
Row 2 — Jimmei Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet), Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Toyota)
Row 3 — Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Chevrolet), Trevor Bayne (No. 6 Ford)
Row 4 — Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Chevrolet), Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota)
Row 5 — Ryan Blaney (No. 21 Ford), Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford)
Row 6 — Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford), Tony Stewart (No. 14 Chevrolet)
Row 7 — Paul Menard (No. 27 Chevrolet), Kurt Busch (No. 41 Chevrolet)
Row 8 — Carl Edwards (No. 19 Toyota), Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota)
Row 9 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford), Ryan Newman (No. 31 Chevrolet)
Row 10 — Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ford), Danica Patrick (No. 10 Chevrolet)
Row 11 — Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 9 Ford), David Ragan (No. 55 Toyota)
Row 12 — Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet), Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet)
Row 13 — Aric Almirola (No. 43 Ford), Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet)
Row 14 — Michael McDowell (No. 95 Ford), Casey Mears (No. 13 Chevrolet)
Row 15 — Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Toyota), J.J. Yeley (No. 26 Toyota)
Row 16 — A.J. Allmendinger (No. 47 Chevrolet), Timmy Hill (No. 62 Ford)
Row 17 — Michael Waltrip (No. 98 Toyota), Cole Whitt (No. 35 Ford)
Row 18 — Bobby Labonte (No. 32 Ford), Matt DiBenedetto (No. 83 Toyota)
Row 19 — Alex Bowman (No. 7 Chevrolet), David Gilliland (No. 38 Ford)
Row 20 — Justin Allgaier (No. 51 Chevrolet), Josh Wise (No. 34 Ford)
Row 21 — Landon Cassill (No. 40 Chevrolet), Trvis Kvapil (No. 33 Chevrolet)
Row 22 — Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Chevrolet)
DNQ (did not qualify): Jeb Burton, Michael Annet
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