Sprint Cup Qualifying at Talladega 2015: Pole winner and full results

Image courtesy of @NASCAR.

A lot has changed since the Daytona 500, but Jeff Gordon hasn’t lost any of his luster at superspeedways. Just like he did to start the season, Gordon will roll out on the front row at another restrictor plate track after taking the pole at Talladega.

It was Gordon’s 80th pole of his career and third this season.

Gordon finished with a speed of 194.793 mph to lead the field in the final round of qualifying. He was also the fastest in the first round at the 2.66-mile track and bested teammate Kasey Kahne (193.685 mph) by a considerable margin to claim the top mark.

Kahne, who will be starting on the front row with Gordon, was pleased with the updated format at Talladega.

Just behind Gordon and Kahne will be Ryan Blaney, who shocked the field in his No. 21 Wood Brothers machine. Rounding out the top five were fellow Hendrick drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson, who have a combined seven victories at Talladega. Before the green flag waves on Sunday, here’s a look at the full starting order after qualifying:

  1. Jeff Gordon
  2. Kasey Kahne
  3. Ryan Blaney
  4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  5. Jimmie Johnson
  6. Tony Stewart
  7. Paul Menard
  8. Matt Kenseth
  9. David Ragan
  10. Clint Bowyer
  11. Casey Mears
  12. Sam Hornish Jr.
  13. Kyle Larson
  14. Austin Dillon
  15. Brad Keselowski
  16. Brian Scott
  17. Denny Hamlin
  18. Ryan Newman
  19. Kurt Busch
  20. Greg Biffle
  21. Joey Logano
  22. Carl Edwards
  23. Michael Waltrip
  24. Kevin Harvick
  25. Danica Patrick
  26. Trevor Bayne
  27. Jamie McMurray
  28. Aric Almirola
  29. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  30. Landon Cassill
  31. A.J. Allmendinger
  32. Bobby Labonte
  33. Brendan Gaughan
  34. Josh Wise
  35. Justin Allgaier
  36. Martin Truex Jr.
  37. Alex Bowman
  38. Chris Buescher
  39. David Gilliland
  40. Michael Annett
  41. Cole Whitt
  42. J.J. Yeley
  43. Matt Dibenedetto

With Ricky Stenhouse Jr. missing the cut last year at Talladega and the farce that took place before the Daytona 500, NASCAR needed to do something. And it did.

The format for this year’s qualifying at Talladega was a complete overhaul from last season. Rather than having having a group format where drafting is important, NASCAR went back to single-car qualifying with only one knockout round.

As a result, each driver just had one attempt to make the second and final round after his or her first go-around. Favorites like Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch all missed out on the cut, but will still start in the top 20. Despite missing the final round, Kes still kept things light with his fans on Twitter. 

Keselowski has won at the track three times during his career, which is third among active drivers. If anyone can remain loose despite a poor round of qualifying, it’s the driver of the No. 2 machine.

While it did leave some work to do for serious contenders, the qualifying did keep every car clean. Which, you know, is kind of important for getting into Victory Lane—the most important part of every weekend.

Being at the top of the leaderboard is great for Gordon, but it might not be a favorable omen. The only active driver to win from the pole, however, is Gordon. So if anyone can get it done, it’s the four-time champion.

The new format took less than an hour and a half to complete and produced the exact same result as the Daytona 500. Two Hendrick cars will start on the front row and all four will be in the top five. That, my friends, is called domination.

 

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