Gordon tops Ky. Busch for New Hampshire pole

5:20 PM, Sep 21, 2012   |    comments
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Loudon, NH (Sports Network) - After a disappointing finish in last weekend's first race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Jeff Gordon rebounded on Friday by winning the pole for the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Gordon, who was the second-to-last driver in the 47-car qualifying field, posted a lap at 134.911 mph for his second pole of the season and the 72nd of his Sprint Cup Series career. It was also his fourth pole in 36 races at New Hampshire.

Last Sunday, Gordon finished 35th at Chicagoland Speedway and fell 47 points out of the lead. He experienced a throttle malfunction and crashed into the wall late in the race.

"That was a great lap," Gordon said. "It started out as a tough day for us in race trim. We were trying some things that weren't working too well for us, and then switched over to qualifying trim and immediately went to second on the board. So I wasn't sure what to expect in qualifying."

Gordon's lap time was quicker 0.33 seconds quicker than Kyle Busch, who was the 29th driver in the qualifying order.

"Our qualifying effort was good," said Busch, who turned a lap at 134.753 mph. "(Crew chief) Dave (Rogers) and the guys made some nice changes from practice to qualifying to get the car a lot better. It reacted well and was very fast. I was actually shocked by the time it ran but pleased with it at the same time."

Tony Stewart, the defending series champion and last year's fall race winner at New Hampshire, qualified third, while Brian Vickers and Carl Edwards rounded out the top-five.

"It was definitely a good lap for us," Stewart said. "We had a good practice this morning and early this afternoon. It was really nice to be able to back it up in qualifying. It's a perfect way to start the weekend off, that's for sure."

Kasey Kahne took the sixth spot, followed by Paul Menard, Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr. and Dave Blaney, who substituted for Sam Hornish Jr. in Penske Racing's No. 22 Dodge for qualifying. Hornish is competing in Saturday's Nationwide Series event at Kentucky Speedway. He is expected to drive the No. 22 car in the Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire.

Gordon, Stewart, Kahne and Truex are those drivers in this year's 12-member field for the Chase.

The other championship contenders and their starting positions include: Clint Bowyer (12th), Greg Biffle (13th), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (14th), Brad Keselowski (15th), Kevin Harvick (16th), Jimmie Johnson (20th), Matt Kenseth (25th) and Denny Hamlin (32nd).

Keselowski, who won at Chicagoland, enters this race with a three-point lead over Johnson and an eight-point advantage over Stewart.

Scott Riggs, Jason Leffler, Jeff Green and Josh Wise failed to qualify for Sunday's 300-lap race, which is scheduled to start just after 2 p.m. (ET).

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