Talladega, AL – Jeff Gordon claimed the pole for the Aaron's 499 after posting the fastest lap in Saturday's qualifying at Talladega Superspeedway.
Gordon, who was the 41st driver to make his qualifying run in the 44-car field, turned a lap at 191.623 mph around the 2.66-mile superspeedway for his first pole of the season and the 71st of his career, which places him third on the Sprint Cup Series' all-time pole winners list.
His last pole came in last year's spring race at this track.
"I did not expect that good of lap," said Gordon, who now has three poles at Talladega. "I knew we were going to be a threat for it. That's pretty sporty."
Gordon also won a pole in NASCAR's premier series for the 20th consecutive season, tying David Pearson for the longest streak all-time. His first pole came during his rookie season in 1993 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
"We just wanted to try something a little bit different that we tried yesterday [in practice], with the one run we made," Gordon said of his qualifying run. "This is a different monster than Daytona. You got to treat a little bit differently in qualifying."
Gordon, a six-time race winner at Talladega, has struggled in the early going this season, recording just two top-10 finishes in the first nine races. He is currently 17th in points.
A.J. Allmendinger's lap at 191.111 mph earned him the outside pole.
Marcos Ambrose qualified third, followed by Aric Almirola, who was quickest overall in Friday's practice sessions, and Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Kasey Kahne.
This will be Almirola's first race with crew chief Mike Ford, who earlier this week replaced Greg Erwin in the role on the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team.
Greg Biffle, who is the current points leader, Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, the defending series champion, Michael Waltrip and Matt Kenseth qualified sixth through 10th, respectively. Kenseth won the most recent restrictor-place race, the Daytona 500, in February.
Sunday's 500-mile race will feature more of the traditional pack-racing and less of the two-car tandems this time at Talladega. However, air and track temperatures could be a major factor in this race. Track temperatures this weekend at Talladega have reached as high as 125 degrees.
Tomorrow's weather forecast here calls for temperatures close to 90 degrees.
"We always have pretty good races here, but it's really, really hot, so I don't think much tandem work until the very end," said Dale Earnhardt Jr., who will try to snap his winless drought which now stands at 138 races.
Earnhardt Jr., a five-time Talladega race winner, and Jimmie Johnson, who won here one year ago, as well as Gordon and Kahne are hoping to give team owner Rick Hendrick his 200th win in the series. Earnhardt Jr. will start 18th, one spot ahead of Johnson.
J.J. Yeley was the only driver who failed to qualify for this race, which is scheduled to start just after 1 p.m. (ET).