LOUDON, N.H. (AP) — Jeff Gordon came into the media center after winning the pole in New Hampshire and found that the moderator was not yet at his post.
No problem: Gordon began interviewing himself.
The four-time NASCAR champion was in a familiar position at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Friday after qualifying for his 72nd career pole position. Gordon will be joined in the front row by Kyle Busch, With Tony Stewart and Brian Vickers behind them.
"I think we surprised ourselves a little bit with this pole," said Gordon, whose last championship was in 2001 — before the current Sprint Cup format. "This is something we didn't expect. Think we expected to be strong in the race here, but for qualifying, we haven't sat on the pole at a non-restricted track in quite some times. So, this was a big one. And, certainly good timing."
Gordon, who heads into the race Sunday ranked 12th in the Sprint Cup standings, ran a lap at 134.911 mph in qualifying Friday. Busch was second, at 134.753 mph, and defending series champion Tony Stewart was third.
"We'll have a good pit spot and hopefully we can keep that track position all day and not have to beat our car up trying to get up there," Stewart said.
Gordon, who barely qualified for the Chase, is hoping a strong finish in New Hampshire will help him overcome a 35th-place finish in Chicago, when he hit the wall with about 80 laps to go. He was the only one of the 12 Chase drivers who didn't finish in the top 18.
"Qualifying is important. But, there are no points for the pole," Gordon said. "Doesn't guarantee anything for the race. Certainly it is a nice boost and something to build on. ... At this point, we have a lot of work to do, and it's not going to happen all in one race. It's going to happen over nine races."