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NASCAR: Jeff Gordon grabs 1st Watkins Glen pole in decade plus

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NASCAR Sprint Cup racer Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, took his first pole position of the season and his first in Watkins Glen in over a decade on Saturday, August 10, setting a new track record in the process.

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Gordon broke the lap record for the short course (without the boot) at Watkins Glen International on Saturday with a lap speed of 129.466 mph and a time of 68.126 seconds, according to track officials. With the new cars NASCAR is driving this season, six drivers surpassed the previous qualifying record set at the Glen by Sam Hornish, Jr. in 2013 at a speed of 123.291 mph.

In addition to Gordon -- Marcos Ambrose, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and A.J. Allmendinger all went faster than the previous qualifying mark. Ambrose went on in the afternoon to take the win in the Nationwide Zippo 200, his fourth win of that race at the Glen.

Ambrose, looking to return to Gatorade Victory Lane after capturing both the 2012 and 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins, will start in the front row with Gordon on Sunday. Ambrose has five top-five finishes in six previous starts at Watkins Glen International.

The winner of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at WGI has never started from outside the 18th position.

In celebrating his first pole position at the Glen since 2003, Gordon remarked, "I'm super excited. I think the type of year we're having certainly is giving all of us confidence in what we're doing in our race cars."

Ambrose, another popular winner at the Glen said, smiling, "I wish Jeff was just a little kinder to me a let me get the pole. It was a good lap and I'll take it. You've got to be happy with front-row starts." He was followed by Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch in the line-up for Sunday.

A.J. Allmendinger, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski and Ryan Newman completed the top 10.

The green flag for the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen drops at 1:00 p.m. local time.

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