Brooklyn, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - Jeff Gordon will start on the pole for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 after setting a new track qualifying record at Michigan International Speedway.
Gordon made a lap around this two-mile oval at 206.558 mph during the third and final round of Friday's knockout qualifying. The driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet scored his second consecutive pole. Last weekend, he claimed his first pole of the 2014 Sprint Cup Series season at Watkins Glen International.
His lap was the seventh-fastest pole winning speed in the history of NASCAR's premier series.
"I don't know how to make it much better than that," Gordon said. "That whole qualifying session, from the first one, second one, and third session, the car was just near perfect. The first one I just didn't drive it hard enough. The second time I finally did and we made a little slight adjustment there. [Crew chief] Alan [Gustafson] and the guys just did perfect. This is exciting. To be running this good and have cars that are this great, back-to-back poles from Watkins Glen to Michigan, we're having a lot of fun right now."
Gordon is using the same car at Michigan that he drove to victory in the July 27 race at Indianapolis.
While Gordon earned his 76th career pole in the series, including his sixth at Michigan, his Hendrick Motorsports teammates struggled in qualifying. Gordon was the only one of the four Hendrick drivers who made it into the third round. Kasey Kahne qualified 15th.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., the current points leader, and Jimmie Johnson, the six- time and defending series champion, failed to advance into the second round. Earnhardt qualified 25th.
"We were a little loose on that second run," Earnhardt said. "We made a good lap on the first run and expected to go out there and pick up two or three tenths [of a second], and the back end was just moving around a lot and real loose. I guess I just couldn't get into the throttle like we needed to."
Johnson, who won at Michigan for the first time in June, placed 30th.
"We had a vibration with our car, really a shake, a violent shake through the corner," Johnson said. "We've been trying to get to the bottom of it. We made it better, and it certainly went faster, but just not enough. We'll go back to the drawing board and dig in deeper and see what is going on."
Joey Logano from Team Penske will start alongside Gordon on the front row after he posted a lap at 206.381 mph. Logano won at Michigan one year ago.
"Close but didn't quite make it, once again," Logano said. "That is our seventh front row start this year, which we are very proud of, don't get me wrong. It takes a lot of effort to do that, but we only have one pole. That is frustrating. That means that is a lot of second place starting positions."
Carl Edward qualified third, followed by Brian Vickers and Brad Keselowski, who hails from nearby Rochester Hills, Michigan.
The top-seven drivers in qualifying surpassed the previous track record of 204.557 mph, set by Kevin Harvick two months ago. Harvick will start sixth in Sunday's 400-mile race here.
It's the 17th time this season that a track qualifying record has been set.
Qualifying seventh through 12th were: Paul Menard, rookie Austin Dillon, Jamie McMurray, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Greg Biffle, who is a four-time race winner at Michigan, and Ryan Newman.
Jeff Burton, who is substituting for Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Chevrolet, qualified 27th. This will be just the third start for Burton this season.
"I just didn't do a very good job of adjusting to the rhythm of everything," Burton said. "Coming here is a really hard place to come after being out of the car for a while and the rhythm of a Q-lap."