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NSCS: Gordon Wins Watkins Glen Pole, Continues to Send Message for the Chase

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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — Just shy of the track record — which was set by Marcos Ambrose in round one of today’s qualifying session — Jeff Gordon ran a lap of 1:08:126 (129.466 mph) to win his 75th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole.

[Related: Cheez-It 355 at The Glen starting lineup]

“Watkins Glen has been kind of a target on our radar,” said Gordon. “We’ve run so poorly here recently and you start to lose confidence on what you’re doing. With the types of racecars we have been bringing to the race track this year, we have hope that it will pay off for us. Today is my son’s (Leo) birthday. There is no doubt this is for his birthday.”

The drivers who qualified among the top-10, do not hold too many surprises.

Ambrose broke the track record in round one at 1:08:113 , and will line up second on the grid behind Gordon. The No.9 team will have a lot to race for tomorrow as a spot on the Chase Grid is in his easiest reach at Watkins Glen for the Road course ace.

“Just have to thank my RPM (Richard Petty Motorsports) team here for the opportunity to run both races here and to qualify fourth and second,” said Ambrose. “I just wish Jeff was a little more kind to me and let me get the pole. I thought we had it there at the end but it wasn’t enough. Got to be happy with front row starts.”

Defending series champion, Jimmie Johnson qualified third with the Stewart-Haas Racing teammates of Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch in the top-five.

Some of the surprises outside the top-10 however, are from Tony Stewart, Justin Allgaier, Cole Whitt, Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne — which seems like an odd list of drivers, some for good reasons and others for bad.

Stewart, a five-time Watkins Glen victor, was and still is one of the drivers to look for on race day. Even after narrowly missing the top-12 advancement, he starts in the 13th spot which is where he started when he won here in 2009. Bowyer and Kahne were deep in the pack in the first segment and will disappointingly start 24th and 30th respectively.

On the upside, NSCS rookies of Allgaier and Whitt both posted their best career qualifying efforts of 15th and 18th spots. Nelson Piquet, Jr. will start 32nd in his first career NSCS start. Look for them to be major dark-horses on Sunday.

A.J. Allmendinger will start sixth, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in seventh with Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano and Brian Vickers rounding out the top-12 starters. Danica Patrick will start 43rd after an engine change on Friday.

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About Zach Catanzareti

Zach Catanzareti serves as a Contributing Writer in the NASCAR department for Rubbings Racing and can be followed on Twitter (@zachracing) for the latest NASCAR updates. A native of Easton, Pennsylvania, he also follows IndyCar and Formula 1.

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