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Jeff Gordon And Jimmie Johnson On Front Row For Daytona 500

Jeff Gordon And Jimmie Johnson On Front Row For Daytona 500

by February 15, 2015 0 comments

Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images

By: Hunter Thomas
Twitter: @HunterThomas08

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Jeff Gordon will start on the pole for the 57th running of the Daytona 500 next Sunday after running a lap of 44.711 seconds at 201.293 mph in Coors Light Pole Qualifying, and after clocking the second fastest time in the final round, Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson will start alongside.

The pole is quite a special one for Gordon, becuase the 2015 edition of the Daytona 500 will be his last effort in the prestigious event. The last time he sat on the pole for the Daytona 500 was back in 1999. He went on to win the event, as well. This year’s one-two effort marks the fourth (1989, 2010, 2011 and 2015) time Hendrick Motorsports has swept the front row of the Daytona 500. Both, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson are now locked into the Daytona 500 and will keep their starting spot, so long as they don’t get caught up in an accident or make an unapproved adjustment.

“Whew, that feels good that is awesome,” Gordon said. “This is one of the most gratifying poles here at Daytona that I have ever had. Not just because my final Daytona 500, but because you have to try to plan it out and you have to try to play that chess match and we played it really well.”

This year’s Coors Light Pole Qualifying marked the first time in history that group qualifying was used to set the front row for the Daytona 500. Drivers had mixed emotions about the format, and for some, it proved to be a challenge, especially for the drivers who had to capitalize on a solid run.

During Round 1A, the red flag was displayed with a 1 minute and 22 seconds left in the session after Reed Sorenson and Clint Bowyer got together in Turn 1, sparking a chain reaction. Other drivers involved included JJ Yeley, Bobby Labonte, and Denny Hamlin. At the time, Hamlin was atop of the speed chart, and his speed actually won Round 1A. The accident occurred when Sorenson attempted to block Bowyer as the group headed into Turn 1.

“Yeah, he came up to the window,” Sorenson said. “He was pretty upset. He has a right to be upset. I was trying to block. I think what he saw is what I was trying to do. I was just trying to stay in front of him to get that good lap. I didn’t think that he was all the way up to me yet. And, listening to my spotter, I was going high, and then he says going low and I went low as soon as he said that. The next thing I know, I’m spinning. I guess I didn’t think he was quite that far up. It’s just a product of trying to run that one good lap and I was trying to stay in front of that line. That was our only shot to run a good lap was to stay in front of him. You see blocking here all the time. It’s part of this racing and now it’s part of the qualifying here.”

Aric Almirola was the fastest in Round 1 with a lap of 44.473 seconds at 202.370 mph.

Jimmie Johnson won Round 2 with a lap of 44.571 seconds at 201.925 mph.

In the third and final round, the field sat on pit road and made it across the start/finish line with only one second left on the clock. Martin Truex Jr. was the first to leave pit road, but he had no one drafting help. In the back of the pack, it was Hendrick Motorsports drivers, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson on top once the session was over. Denny Hamlin was third, followed by Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch.

“I went to go off pit road pretty hard I knew I had Jimmie (Johnson) behind me and I saw the No. 20 (Matt Kneseth) and the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) checking up and I said ‘nope, I want to be behind them’,” Gordon said. “It worked out perfect. I thought Jimmie (Johnson) was going to get it and right there on that last lap I got a little bit of a surge and sucked up to those guys. I thought ‘this might be enough’ and you knew you wanted to be in the back and that is part of the waiting game. At Talladega it bit us here it won the pole for the Daytona 500. Awesome job to my team, everybody back at Hendrick Motorsports, Rick Hendrick, this is pretty awesome to be on pole.”

The drivers who are locked into the Daytona 500 on speed, include Aric Almirola, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Carl Edwards and Jamie McMurray. Meanwhile, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Matt Kenseth are locked into the Daytona 500 through owner points. Tony Stewart is locked in by the past champion’s provisional.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duels will be live on FOX at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, February 19. You can also listen to all of the live action on the Motor Racing Network (MRN).

Hunter Thomas
Hunter Thomas is a journalist who grew up in Darlington, S.C. His first motorsports-based endeavor was working as the Public Relations Director at Dillon Motor Speedway in Dillon, S.C., and his journalism start came while he was freelancing at his hometown newspaper, the News & Press while in college.

Hunter has been working within the NASCAR industry since 2010, and throughout the years, he has done everything from PR/Marketing for drivers and teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, to working at Rockingham Speedway. As a journalist, Hunter has covered everything from regional short tracks to NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, World of Outlaws, Red Bull Global Rallycross, NHRA and much more.

Follow Hunter Thomas on Twitter by following, @HunterThomas08

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