Gordon takes Daytona 500 pole

Gordon with his second pole for the Daytona 500

Gordon with his second pole for the Daytona 500

Jeff Gordon may have announced that 2015 will be his final fulltime season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup, but that had little effect as he scored pole for the Daytona 500.

In a further sign of strength he will be joined on the front row by Hendrick Motorsports team-mate Jimmie Johnson.

It is Gordon’s 78th career pole and second for the Daytona 500. His lap of  323.950km/h (201.293 mph) was the fifth-fastest Daytona 500 pole speed ever and fastest since Bill Elliott’s record-setting lap in 1987 at 210.364 mph.

Gordon and Johnson earned the fourth Hendrick Motorsports front row for the Great American Race. Gordon also extended his NASCAR record of 23 consecutive season with a pole position.

It was the first time in history that group qualifying was used for the Daytona 500. It consisted of three rounds of knockout qualifying, which left 12 drivers competing in the final five-minute round.

“This is one of the more gratifying poles here at Daytona that I’ve ever had, not just because it’s my final Daytona 500 but because you’ve got to try and plan it out and play that chess match and play it really, really well,” Gordon said.

The group qualifying brought drama early when Reed Sorenson and Clint Bowyer crashed. Denny Hamlin, J.J. Yeley, Trevor Bayne and Bobby Labonte were also involved in the melee.

“It’s NASCAR’s fault for putting us out in the middle of this crap for nothing,” Bowyer said.

“We used to come down here and worry about who would sit on the front row in the biggest race of the year.

“Now all we do is come down here and worry about how a start-and-park like this out of desperation is going to knock us out of the Daytona 500.

A big crash early left a number of drivers furious

A big crash early left a number of drivers furious

“We’ve been in meetings for 45 minutes just trying to figure out what in the hell everybody is going to do just so we can make the race. It’s stupid.”

The dramas were not limited to the track with Denny Hamlin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. both having their cars excluded following post-qualifying technical inspection.

Hamlin had qualified third and Earnhardt 10th. Their times gave them good starting spots for Thursday’s Duel.

Earnhardt’s car was found to be too low on the left front. He will have to start 25th in Thursday’s first Duel.

Hamlin’s car failed inspection because his track car had a split that was too wide. The maximum split is 3.0 inches; Hamlin’s measured 3.75, NASCAR officials said. Hamlin will start 24th in the second Duel on Thursday.

With front row set, the remaining 47 entered drivers will battle for the other 41 positions in the Daytona 500 during Thursday’s Daytona Duels.

The odd-numbered finishers from today’s qualifying will start behind Gordon in the first duel race. The even-numbered finishers from today’s qualifying will start behind Johnson in the second duel race.

Today’s qualifying determined only the front row for the Daytona 500. Starting positions 3-43 will be determined in the Duel qualifying races.

The top-15 finishers in each Duel will be locked into positions 3-32 in the Daytona 500 field.

Positions 33-36 will go to the four cars that were fastest in qualifying but failed to the race their way in via the Duels.

Positions 37-42 will be based on owner points from last year. Position 43 will go to a past NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion who otherwise failed to qualify. If that slot is not needed, it be awarded via owner points.

VIDEO: Gordon takes the Daytona 500 pole

VIDEO: Big crash in qualifying

DAYTONA 500 : Qualifying

 
POS. CAR # DRIVER MANUFACTURER SPONSOR MPH BEST TIME BEHIND
1 24 Jeff Gordon Drive To End Hunger 201.293 44.711 Leader
2 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s 201.135 44.746 –0.035
3 11 Denny Hamlin* FedEx Express 200.933 44.791 –0.080
4 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General 200.214 44.952 –0.241
5 18 Kyle Busch M&M’s Crispy 200.187 44.958 –0.247
6 5 Kasey Kahne Great Clips 199.867 45.030 –0.319
7 19 Carl Edwards Arris 197.837 45.492 –0.781
8 33 Ty Dillon Cheerios 197.507 45.568 –0.857
9 3 Austin Dillon Dow 196.962 45.694 –0.983
10 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr* Nationwide 195.080 46.135 –1.424
11 1 Jamie McMurray Cessna/McDonald’s 193.133 46.600 –1.889
12 78 Martin Truex Jr Furniture Row/Visser Precision 190.678 47.200 –2.489
13 83 Johnny Sauter Dustless Blasting Toyota Camry 198.220 45.404 –0.693
14 16 Greg Biffle 2015 Ortho Ford Fusion 197.477 45.575 –0.864
15 6 Trevor Bayne 2015 Advocare Ford Fusion 197.256 45.626 –0.915
16 9 Sam Hornish Jr Twisted Tea 197.243 45.629 –0.918
17 43 Aric Almirola Smithfield 197.200 45.639 –0.928
18 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr 2015 Fastenal Ford Fusion 196.816 45.728 –1.017
19 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite 193.357 46.546 –1.835
20 21 Ryan Blaney Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center 193.282 46.564 –1.853
21 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil 193.241 46.574 –1.863
22 55 Michael Waltrip Aaron’s Dream Machine 190.517 47.240 –2.529
23 23 J.J. Yeley MAXIM Fantasy Sports app/Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry 199.256 45.168 –0.457
24 32 Bobby Labonte C&J Energy Services 199.067 45.211 –0.500
25 27 Paul Menard Peak/Menards 198.325 45.380 –0.669
26 7 Alex Bowman Toy State/Nikko Chevrolet 198.229 45.402 –0.691
27 47 AJ Allmendinger Kroger/USO 198.212 45.406 –0.695
28 31 Ryan Newman Caterpillar 198.177 45.414 –0.703
29 4 Kevin Harvick Budweiser / Jimmy John’s 197.994 45.456 –0.745
30 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation 197.976 45.460 –0.749
31 14 Tony Stewart Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 197.968 45.462 –0.751
32 10 Danica Patrick GoDaddy 197.959 45.464 –0.753
33 13 Casey Mears No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS 197.946 45.467 –0.756
34 62 Brian Scott Shore Lodge 197.828 45.494 –0.783
35 46 Michael Annett Pilot Flying J 196.554 45.789 –1.078
36 51 Justin Allgaier Brandt 196.532 45.794 –1.083
37 42 Kyle Larson Target 195.588 46.015 –1.304
38 38 David Gilliland Love’s Travel Stops 195.346 46.072 –1.361
39 95 Michael McDowell Thrivent Financial 195.300 46.083 –1.372
40 26 Jeb Burton LiveDeal.com Download the App Toyota Camry 195.004 46.153 –1.442
41 15 Clint Bowyer 5-Hour Energy 194.995 46.155 –1.444
42 44 Reed Sorenson Golden Coral 194.978 46.159 –1.448
43 29 Justin Marks American Born Moonshine 194.675 46.231 –1.520
44 34 David Ragan Kentucky Fried Chicken 194.452 46.284 –1.573
45 35 Cole Whitt Speed Stick 194.012 46.389 –1.678
46 98 Josh Wise Phoenix Construction 193.386 46.539 –1.828
47 40 Landon Cassill Carsforsale.com 193.299 46.560 –1.849
48 66 Mike Wallace Crazy Vapors- X8 Energy Gum 192.509 46.751 –2.040
49 30 Ron Hornaday Jr Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff 190.791 47.172 –2.461

 

* Failed post-qualifying technical inspection

 

 

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