Vital Richmond Pole Belongs To Gordon
RICHMOND, Va. – With only one race left before the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup, Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch find themselves locked in a battle for the tenth and final spot in The Chase.
They’ll continue that battle Saturday night at Richmond (Va.) Int’l Raceway, where Gordon and Busch will start on the front row for the Federated Auto Parts 400. Gordon earned the pole, his first of the season and 73rd of his career, to put himself in the proverbial catbirds seat going into Saturday’s race.
“Qualifying has not been very good for me and for our team this year, but I’m very proud of this one. It comes at a great time,” said Gordon, whose 20.674-second lap reset the track record previously owned Matt Kenseth. “We know home important making it in that Chase is.
“I’m so proud of this race team. That was huge.”
Busch, who currently owns the tenth and final Chase spot, qualified second. He’ll have to work hard if he is going to qualify for the Chase, because Gordon is only six points behind him in 11th heading into Saturday’s race at Richmond.
“We just threw a couple things at it and it stuck,” said Busch, who was only 19thth fastest in final practice. “These Furniture Row guys keep working and they keep finding things. Qualifying has been strong for us this year, so I’m glad we could lean back on some of the knowledge we have from earlier this year.
“Now at the start of the race we’re right there with Gordon and we’ll settle in and race our 400 laps,” Busch said.
Brad Keselowski, who will need a lot of help if he plans to make the Chase and defend his 2012 Sprint Cup championship, qualified third in the No. 2 Ford. Clint Bowyer and Kenseth, who have already clinched their spots in the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup, qualified fourth and fifth.
Joey Logano, who is eighth in the championship standings, will look to secure his Chase berth from eighth on the starting grid. Greg Biffle, ninth in the championship standings, starts right behind him in ninth.
Martin Truex Jr., in search of a Chase wild card berth, will start 11th. Currently seventh in the championship standings, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will try to clinch his Chase berth from the 14th position. Others hoping to clinch spots in the Chase included Jamie McMurray (qualified seventh), Kasey Kahne (18th), Paul Menard (22nd) and Ryan Newman (24th).
Regan Smith, who was driving the No. 48 Chevrolet in place of new father Jimmie Johnson, qualified 10th.
Mike Bliss was the only driver who failed to qualify for Saturday’s race.