With the sun setting and the temperatures falling at Charlotte Motor Speedway Thursday night, there was a sense the Bank of America 500 qualifying record was about to fall. By the time all 43 cars took their laps around the 1.5-mile quad-oval, four cars had bested Greg Biffle’s 2012 mark including Biffle himself, but it was Jeff Gordon who wowed everyone a speed of 194.308 mph to capture the pole for Saturday night’s race.
Gordon was the last car to make a qualifying run and clocked in at 27.791 seconds which was a mere .015 better than Kevin Harvick (194.203 mph) who will start second in an all Chevrolet front row. Biffle, in a Ford, will start third with a speed of 193.959 alongside Jimmie Johnson. The five time champion’s Chevrolet was also better than the old record at 193.791.
The track qualifying record came earlier this year in the Coca-Cold 600 when Denny Hamlin sped away with his FedEx Toyota at 195.624 mph (27.604 seconds).
“I can tell you, I’m feeling better every race,” said Gordon. “I thought that we really started making ground up the week prior to Richmond. Every week that we perform well and lead laps and run up front builds the confidence that we can win races and put together some great runs and get the points that we need. At this point, we’re just going all-out, giving it everything we have. We’re not really thinking about points. We’re just trying to win races and get the best finishes that we can. Right now we’re just having fun.”
Gordon is fourth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, 32 points behind leader Matt Kenseth who struggled in qualifying and will start 20th.
The pole was Gordon’s 74th in 720 career Sprint Cup starts and second this season. It marked the ninth time he took the top spot at CMS, his first came on Oct. 10, 1993 when he became the youngest to turn the trick at this track. He was 22 years, 2 months and 6 days old and the record still stands.
Harvick raced himself into the Chase a week ago when he won at Kansas, ironically in the same car he nearly took the pole with on Thursday. He is third in the points, 25 behind Kenseth. CMS was once a track Harvick did not like coming to but has enjoyed a lot of success recently (see related story).