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NASCAR Daytona 500 qualifying recap: Jeff Gordon wins the pole

Jeff Gordon got the most out of his first and only participation in group qualifying for the Daytona 500.

Gordon, who is beginning his final season as a full-time driver in the Sprint Cup Series, posted the fastest speed in the final round, claiming the pole for Sunday’s NASCAR season opener at Daytona International Speedway. His average lap speed was 201.293 mph.

It’s just the second Daytona 500 pole in Gordon’s career and first since 1999.

Gordon’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson, will start alongside Gordon on the front row.

Turning point

To have a lap count in group qualifying, a driver must take the green flag before time expires in the session. In the final round of qualifying, drivers waited until there was just over 1 minute left on the clock to leave pit road, and the last of them took the flag just as time expired.

Three who mattered

Jeff Gordon: He’s kicking off his final year as a NASCAR competitor by leading the field in the sport’s most prestigious race.

Martin Truex Jr.: He was the first car to take the green flag in the final round but because he had virtually no help, he wound up with the slowest speed. Still, it was another strong day for Truex and the Furniture Row Racing team.

Joe Gibbs Racing: All four JGR teams, including new addition Carl Edwards, qualified seventh or higher. Could a second 500 win for JGR be on the horizon?

They said it

“Jeff Gordon and those guys got pole because they planned getting off pit road better than I did.” – Carl Edwards

N@SCAR

Three tweets from Sunday’s qualifying:

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