Ambrose wins pole for Sonoma

Published June 22, 2012

| Sports Network

Marcos Ambrose is on a roll in Sprint Cup Series qualifying.

Prior to last weekend's race at Michigan International Speedway, Ambrose had not won a pole in 133 starts in NASCAR's premier series. Now the Australian is 2-0.

Ambrose, who drives the No. 9 Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports, claimed the top starting position for Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway. The Australian turned a lap at 95.262 mph around the 1.99-mile Northern California road course.

"I put a lot of effort into this race, and everybody at Richard Petty Motorsports and the whole team have been rock solid behind me for the road course program," Ambrose said. "I am glad we could convert the effort into a great result. It is only one lap, and we have to do a lot more on Sunday, but at least we can go home and say we had the fastest car."

Ambrose, a road-course ace, has finished sixth or better in the past three races at Sonoma. His first and only Sprint Cup race win so far came last August on the Watkins Glen, NY road course.

Last Saturday at Michigan, Ambrose recorded the fastest speed in NASCAR qualifications in 25 years. He posted a lap at 203.241 mph on the newly paved two-mile racetrack.

"I was more nervous running 90 mph than I was running 200," he noted. "You just have to be really precise with your marks and very aggressive and carry momentum through these tight corners."

Jeff Gordon, who was the last driver to qualify in the 44-car field, earned the outside pole with a lap at 95.067 mph.

"I thought it was a really good lap," Gordon said. "You've got to give credit where credit is due. Marcos laid down a heck of a lap. We came up just a little bit short. I knew that was going to be a tough lap to beat, but I'm very pleased with that lap."

Gordon holds the series record for most wins on road courses with nine, including five at Sonoma.

Gordon's teammate, Jimmie Johnson, qualified third, while Greg Biffle took the fourth spot. Michael Waltrip Racing drivers Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer were fifth and sixth, respectively.

Kyle Busch placed seventh, followed by his elder brother, Kurt, who is the defending race winner. Matt Kenseth, the current points leader, and Ryan Newman completed the top-10.

Kenseth holds just a four-point advantage over Dale Earnhardt Jr., who ended his four-year, 143-race winless streak last Sunday at Michigan. Earnhardt Jr. qualified 19th.

Brian Simo was the only driver who failed to qualify.

Sunday's 110-lap race at Sonoma is scheduled to start just after 3 p.m. (ET).

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