Jeff Gordon is suddenly having all kind of success at Texas Motor Speedway, a track where he had never won until earlier this season.
Gordon captured his first pole of the season, waiting until the third-to-last race to extend his streak of 17 consecutive seasons with a pole, with a qualifying lap of 191.117 mph Friday at the 1½-mile, high-banked Texas track.
"We weren't waiting," said Gordon, smiling. "We were working hard every weekend. And you know we've been very close. ... But the fact that we did get it and to do it here at Texas, a track where we have struggled at until recently, this is a great place to do it. We're focused on ending this season the best we possibly can. "
Only David Pearson and Richard Petty have longer streaks than Gordon of seasons with a pole. Pearson went 20 consecutive seasons (1963-82) and Petty had 18 (1960-77).
Gordon is third in points, 192 behind Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson, who drives the No. 48 Chevrolet on which Gordon is listed as the owner. Johnson is vying for an unprecedented fourth consecutive season title and needs only to average a 10th-place finish the last three races to get it.
Mark Martin, another Hendrick driver, is second, only eight points ahead of Gordon's No. 24. Martin qualified seventh and Johnson 12th for Sunday's race.
Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch qualified second and third in Dodges, and Tony Stewart was fourth in his No. 14 Chevrolet.
When Gordon won at Texas in April, it broke a 47-race winless drought and gave him a victory at one of the two active tracks where the four-time series champion had never won. The other is Homestead, where the season finale is in two weeks.
Gordon also started on the pole last November in Texas, when he finished second. He started second in April before finally winning on his 17th try at the "tricky track" where he has the only two last-place finishes in his 578 career starts.
That is still Gordon's only win this season.
"I would hardly say we own the place, but you know I think that we really didn't get enough credit for the first three or four races here. We were the best car at just about every one of those races and we just had crazy weird things happen to us," Gordon said. "It just started a trend of not good results and they just continued."
One of those 43rd-place finishes came at Texas in April 2008 before things started getting good there.
Gordon started first at Martinsville in March, the week before the Texas spring race, when that field was set by owner's points. He has rolled off in the No. 2 spot seven times this season.