August 15, 2014

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

NASCAR Sprint Cup at Michigan International Speedway: Jeff Gordon swept to the pole Friday for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 and he did so in record-breaking style.

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.”


• 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

St No. Driver Car Speed
1 24 Jeff Gordon Chevy 206.558
2 22 Joey Logano Ford 206.381
3 99 Carl Edwards Ford 206.115
4 55 Brian Vickers Toyota 205.685
5 2 Brad Keselowski Ford 205.644
6 4 Kevin Harvick Chevy 205.438
7 27 Paul Menard Chevy 204.580
8 3 Austin Dillon Chevy 204.464
9 1 Jamie McMurray Chevy 204.354
10 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford 204.174
11 16 Greg Biffle Ford 203.822
12 31 Ryan Newman Chevy 203.470
13 42 Kyle Larson Chevy 204.082
14 10 Danica Patrick Chevy 204.012
15 5 Kasey Kahne Chevy 203.943
16 41 Kurt Busch Chevy 203.856
17 51 Justin Allgaier Chevy 203.528
18 20 Matt Kenseth Toyota 203.384
19 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 203.223
20 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford 203.097
21 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 203.029
22 47 AJ Allmendinger Chevy 202.743
23 43 Aric Almirola Ford 202.674
24 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 201.969
25 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevy 202.885
26 13 Casey Mears Chevy 202.458
27 14 Jeff Burton Chevy 202.412
28 21 Ryan Blaney Ford 202.327
29 38 David Gilliland Ford 201.822
30 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevy 201.720
31 83 Ryan Truex Toyota 201.263
32 23 Alex Bowman Toyota 200.496
33 98 Josh Wise Chevy 199.756
34 34 David Ragan Ford 199.534
35 7 Michael Annett Chevy 199.225
36 26 Cole Whitt Toyota 199.132
37 37 Dave Blaney Chevy own. pts.
38 32 Travis Kvapil Ford own. pts.
39 78 Matt Crafton Chevy own. pts.
40 36 Reed Sorenson Chevy own. pts.
41 33 Alex Kennedy Chevy own. pts.
42 66 Joe Nemechek Toyota own. pts.
43 40 Landon Cassill Chevy own. pts.

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