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NASCAR: Jeff Gordon wins Michigan pole in track-record time

NASCAR Michigan Auto Racing
Bob Brodbeck - AP
Jeff Gordon celebrates winning the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich., Friday, Aug. 15, 2014.

BROOKLYN, Mich. Jeff Gordon swept to the pole Friday for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400, and he did so in record-breaking style.

Gordon’s lap of 206.558 mph at Michigan International Speedway broke a track record set in June by Kevin Harvick (204.557), and he wasn’t alone.

The top seven qualifiers all finished faster than Harvick’s lap in June: Gordon, Joey Logano (206.381), Carl Edwards (206.115), Brian Vickers (205.685), Brad Keselowski (205.644), Harvick (205.438) and Paul Menard (205.204.580). Gordon’s, however, was the seventh-fastest qualifying lap in NASCAR history.

It is Gordon’s second consecutive pole. He also qualified first last week at Watkins Glen, which came two weeks after winning the race at Indianapolis.

“This track is smooth since it was repaved (in 2012), and there is a tremendous amount of surface where the car can get a grip,” said Gordon. “It’s a testament to what teams did in NASCAR in the offseason. We’re always trying to find more horsepower.”

Said Edwards: “It’s fast, is the simplest way to describe it. It was screaming.”

Notes

• Ryan Blaney takes NASCAR’s Truck Series points lead into Saturday’s Careers for Veterans 200 at Michigan. Forgive Blaney, however, if he’s had other things on his mind.

Wood Brothers Racing announced this week that Blaney, 20, will drive a limited Sprint Cup schedule in 2015. He will replace Trevor Bayne, who is departing for Roush Fenway Racing, in the Woods’ iconic No. 21 Ford for 20 races next season.

“The history of this team is very special and being able to drive for (the Woods) is very special and a dream come true,” said Blaney.

With Bayne competing in Saturday’s Nationwide race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Blaney qualified the Woods’ car for Sunday’s Cup race.

“I have never been to Michigan before in a Cup car,” said Blaney. “I have run ARCA and Truck here, but they are so different.”

Blaney leads Johnny Sauter by seven points heading into Saturday’s Truck race, which begins at 12:30 p.m. after qualifying at 9:40 a.m.

“Ryan was our choice really from Day One when Trevor announced he was leaving,” said Wood Brothers co-owner Eddie Wood.

• There was significant sponsor news earlier in the week, with 3M leaving Greg Biffle and Roush Racing for Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports. It will be the primary sponsor for 11 Cup races from 2015 through 2017.

• AJ Allmendinger said he’s been enjoying every minute since he won last week’s road-course race at Watkins Glen, his first Cup victory.

“I wanted to sleep in victory lane,” said Allmendinger. “I wanted to wake up with confetti stuck to my face. They said that wasn’t allowed.”

Friday’s qualifying

StNo.DriverCarSpeed
124Jeff GordonChevy206.558
222Joey LoganoFord206.381
399Carl EdwardsFord206.115
455Brian VickersToyota205.685
52Brad KeselowskiFord205.644
64Kevin HarvickChevy205.438
727Paul MenardChevy204.580
83Austin DillonChevy204.464
91Jamie McMurrayChevy204.354
1017Ricky Stenhouse Jr.Ford204.174
1116Greg BiffleFord203.822
1231Ryan NewmanChevy203.470
1342Kyle LarsonChevy204.082
1410Danica PatrickChevy204.012
155Kasey KahneChevy203.943
1641Kurt BuschChevy203.856
1751Justin AllgaierChevy203.528
1820Matt KensethToyota203.384
1915Clint BowyerToyota203.223
209Marcos AmbroseFord203.097
2111Denny HamlinToyota203.029
2247AJ AllmendingerChevy202.743
2343Aric AlmirolaFord202.674
2418Kyle BuschToyota201.969
2588Dale Earnhardt Jr.Chevy202.885
2613Casey MearsChevy202.458
2714Jeff BurtonChevy202.412
2821Ryan BlaneyFord202.327
2938David GillilandFord201.822
3048Jimmie JohnsonChevy201.720
3183Ryan TruexToyota201.263
3223Alex BowmanToyota200.496
3398Josh WiseChevy199.756
3434David RaganFord199.534
357Michael AnnettChevy199.225
3626Cole WhittToyota199.132
3737Dave BlaneyChevyown. pts.
3832Travis KvapilFordown. pts.
3978Matt CraftonChevyown. pts.
4036Reed SorensonChevyown. pts.
4133Alex KennedyChevyown. pts.
4266Joe NemechekToyotaown. pts.
4340Landon CassillChevyown. pts.

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