Qualifying Report - Talladega
1. Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 49.857 seconds, 192.069 miles per hour
2. David Gilliland, Ford, 49.857 seconds, 192.069 miles per hour
3. Denny Hamlin, Chevrolet, 49.992 seconds, 191.551 miles per hour
4. Sterling Marlin, Chevrolet, 50.130 seconds, 191.023 miles per hour
5. Ricky Rudd, Ford, 50.156 seconds, 190.924 miles per hour
25. Kyle Petty, Dodge, 50.476 seconds, 189.714 miles per hour
41. Bobby Labonte, Dodge, 50.822 seconds, 188.422 miles per hour
Jeff Gordon won his third pole of the season Saturday afternoon at the 2.66-mile Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Gordon will start on the inside of the front row for the first time ever at Talladega. Gordon’s pole moved him into fourth on the all-time pole winners list. Gordon has 60 career poles.
Teams practiced on Friday, drafting in the two practice sessions. An early morning on Saturday, all the attention was turned to qualifying and if Robert Yates Racing could win another restrictor plate pole. David Gilliland in his Robert Yates Racing Ford did turn in the fastest time, but Gordon’s time was equal. Gordon won the pole because he is higher in owner points. It is Gordon’s first pole in 29 races at Talladega. Kenny Schrader, driving for the Wood Brothers, missed the race. It’s the first time since 2000 that the Wood Brothers missed a race. Kenny Wallace qualified sixth for that team’s best qualifying effort ever.
Kyle Petty and the #45 National Tire and Battery Dodge team had one of their best qualifying efforts all season. Petty qualified 25th after posting a lap over 189 miles per hour on Saturday. Petty’s qualifying effort is the second best for the team this year. Petty’s car was really strong, and he was pleased with the team’s efforts.
“That’s all the guys at the shop,” said Petty. “They did a great job of giving us a good car here at the track. I just did my part by driving it around the two laps. The Evernham Engines have been strong for our cars here. We had some good laps and it worked out well for us today. It doesn’t really matter where you start, but this will help. Hopefully we can have a good race on Sunday and make it all pay off.”
Bobby Labonte and the #43 Cheerios/Spider-Man 3 team were one of the fastest drafting cars on Friday. The team was in the top five during both practice sessions. Labonte’s car wasn’t as strong by itself. The team knew that their setup was tuned for Sunday’s race.
“But, we went faster than what we did last year in qualifying,” said Labonte. “Our setup probably hurt us for qualifying, but the car was really good on Friday. A starting spot is a starting spot here. We have some work to do, but have a car capable of having a good run.”
Saturday’s qualifying session was televised live nationally by SPEED Channel and broadcast on MRN Radio. Sunday’s race will be televised live on FOX and broadcast live on MRN Radio. The race is scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. (ET).