Jeff Gordon beats the hired guns

Jeff Gordon used to be the man to beat every time Winston Cup racing came to Watkins Glen International, and on Friday he made it seem like old times. <p>Gordon ran a lap at 124.580 mph under perfect qualifying conditions to win the pole for Sunday's Sirius at The Glen road-course race, leading an assault on the former track record.<p>

Jeff Gordon used to be the man to beat every time Winston Cup racing came to Watkins Glen International, and on Friday he made it seem like old times.

Gordon ran a lap at 124.580 mph under perfect qualifying conditions to win the pole for Sunday's Sirius at The Glen road-course race, leading an assault on the former track record.

Gordon, who won his second pole of the season and the second of his career at this 2.45-mile track, won three straight races here ending beginning in 1997 and added a fourth victory in 2001. But last year here finished 22nd after qualifying only 23rd fastest.

Biffle, who won a NASCAR Truck series race from the pole here in 2000, ran 124.497 mph to earn the outside spot on Row 1, with Roush Racing teammate Mark Martin third fastest at 124.464 mph.

Tony Stewart, who won this race a year ago on his way to the Winston Cup title, was fourth fastest Friday at 124.267 mph, with two-time Watkins Glen winner Rusty Wallace rounding out the top five.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., who won a Busch race here, in 1999 but whose best Winston Cup start here had been 14th, was fifth fastest at 124.145 mph.

"This has always been a place where I've enjoyed racing," Earnhardt Jr. said, "but I can't running any kind of good lap without a car that will haul like that."

Matt Kenseth, the Winston Cup points leader, and Roush teammate Kurt Busch both ran 123.673 mph laps, leaving Kenseth to start seventh and Busch eighth on Sunday. Bobby Labonte and road-course specialist Boris Said rounded out the top 10.

Notes

Ken Shrader once again fails to qualify and has to go home.

 

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