Gordon gains pole at Watkins Glen

Saturday, August 9, 2003

The AssociatedPress

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Jeff Gordon's miserable season took a positive turn Friday when NASCAR's king of the road won the pole with a record-shattering run at Watkins Glen International.

The four-time Winston Cup champion -- with a record seven victories on road courses -- sped around the 2.45-mile serpentine track at 124.580 mph. It was the second pole this season for Gordon, a distant third in the points standings with only one victory.

Gordon said the combination of a fast racing surface and a testing session last month helped him immensely.

"We were really fast all day," he said, alluding to being second-quickest in practice. "The conditions couldn't be any more perfect for qualifying."

He was among those who weren't a bit surprised that Dale Jarrett's 2-year-old record of 122.698 mph was broken by 18 of 47 cars. He said the teams have put a greater emphasis on road-course programs in the last few seasons.

"After the last race here we knew he had to come back and test," he said. "We had a plan that paid off for us. The last couple of years we weren't good enough to win a pole."

It was his second pole on the 11-turn layout, one of only two road courses on the circuit, and the 44th of his career. Gordon will try Sunday in the Sirius at The Glen to win here for a fifth time and claim his 63rd career victory.

Two-time Watkins Glen winner Rusty Wallace -- with six road course victories overall -- qualified fifth by touring the track at 124.255 in a Dodge.

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