Jeff Gordon Wins Pole For Daytona 500
In the biggest race of the season during what he says is his final full-time year in Sprint Cup racing, Jeff Gordon will have the pole for next Sunday's Daytona 500. And alongside him in the front row will be teammate Jimmie Johnson. It gives Hendrick Motorsports their fourth front row for the Great American Race.
For Gordon, it's his second Daytona 500 pole and the 78th of his Sprint Cup career. His lap of 201.293 mph was the fifth-fastest pole speed in the history of the race and the fastest since Bill Elliott established the record of 210.364 mph in 1987.
With Gordon and Johnson all set on the front row, the other 47 entered cars will battle it out for the remaining 41 slots during Thursday night's Twin Duels. The odd-numbered finishers from Sunday's qualifying will start behind Gordon in the first duel race. The even-numbered finishers will start behind Johnson in the second duel race.
It was the first time that knockout qualifying was used for the Daytona 500. Two earlier knockout rounds reduced the field to 12 drivers for the final round, a five minute session that determined the pole winner.
Clint Bowyer and Reed Sorenson wrecked in the opening qualifying round. It also involved Denny Hamlin, J.J. Yeley, Trevor Bayne and Bobby Labonte. Bowyer was incensed afterward at the new format.