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Jeff Gordon wins pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway

- dscott@charlotteobserver.com
Friday, Sep. 21, 2012

The first race weekend of the Chase for the Cup ended badly for Jeff Gordon.

The second weekend has started better.

Gordon rolled to the pole Friday for Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, edging Kyle Busch for the top spot. Five days after wrecking in the Geico 400 at Chicagoland Speedway – sinking him into a deep hole in the Chase standings – Gordon is feeling better about things at the 1-mile track in the New Hampshire countryside.

“I think we surprised ourselves with this pole,” said Gordon, whose lap of 134.911 mph edged Kyle Busch (134.753). “This is a big one and certainly good timing.”

The past week has actually been a microcosm of Gordon’s season. Plagued by bad luck for much of the run-up to the Chase, he got in the postseason as a wild card when he finished second at Richmond.

But, then, more misfortune at Chicago, where his throttle stuck when Gordon was running fourth. He ran into the wall on Lap 189.

Losing confidence hasn’t been an issue for Gordon, who is 47 points behind leader Brad Keselowski.

“Your confidence gets broken when you’re running 25th,” said Gordon, who has 72 poles in 681 career races. “Our cars have been really fast and that keeps your confidence. Knowing you can rebound and get to the next track. If you don’t have these problems, you’re going to have a good chance to win.”

Gordon is one of just four Chase drivers who will start in the top 10 Sunday, along with Tony Stewart (fourth), Kasey Kahne (sixth) and Martin Truex Jr. (ninth). Keselowski starts 15th.

Notes

• Brett Moffitt is on the pole for Saturday’s K&N Pro Series East race at New Hampshire. Moffitt, of Grimes, Iowa, ran a lap of 128.467 mph, edging the 128.242 mph of Sergio Pena of Winchester, Va.

Donny Lia is on the pole for a NASCAR Whelen Modified race later Saturday. An American-Canadian Tour race will also run Saturday.

• Kansas Speedway announced its 2013 race schedules: the STP 400 Cup race will be April 21 (with a truck race April 20) and the Hollywood Casino on Oct. 6 (with a Nationwide race Oct. 5).

The fall race moves two weeks back – from Oct. 21 this year – and will be the fourth race in the Chase. It is scheduled to be the sixth Chase race this season.

Scott: 704-358-5889; Twitter: @davidscott14

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