Jeff Gordon claimed the 79th pole of his NASCAR Sprint Cup career in qualifying at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The four-time champion, who is effectively retiring at the end of 2015, put in a record 194.679mph, 27.738-second lap to top Joey Logano by 0.052s.
“Well, I didn’t come off the throttle much, if any—I know I had to blip it just the tiniest, tiniest bit,” Gordon said of his pole-winning lap. “The lap before, in the second session, I was a little conservative and the car just stuck so good, I thought when I heard some of the lap times that were up there (in the third round), I knew (I had to) be fully committed and just go for it.
“So I drove it down into (Turn) 1. I may have come off of it just a tiny bit, but it wasn’t much at all. And it stuck so good, I was like, ‘OK, do I run wide open through (Turns) 3 and 4?’ I don’t know. It was real close. There was a lot of wide-open throttle there. It was fun. What a turnaround from last week. I’m just so proud of this team and keeping their heads up. Last week was a tough one, and this is a great, great way to start out weekend here in Las Vegas…
“I can’t believe I won my first pole in Las Vegas in my final race here.”
The Vegas front row pair have taken all this year’s Cup poles so far between them, with Gordon having topped Daytona 500 qualifying and Daytona 500 winner Logano having followed that result up with an Atlanta pole last week.
Gordon’s Hendrick teammates Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. filled row two before Logano’s Penske Ford.
Ganassi had a strong day, with Kyle Larson topping practice and then Jamie McMurray and Larson leading round two of qualifying. Larson ended up fifth on the grid, while McMurray qualified 10th.
Reigning champion Kevin Harvick only managed 18th in qualifying.
Organizational changes by NASCAR ensured that there was no repeat of the chaotic technical inspection scenes that resulted in several big names missing qualifying at Atlanta last weekend.