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 had put a greater emphasis on road-course programs in the last few seasons.
Gordon also said he had rededicated himself to being a constant threat on the road courses.
"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."
That bothered Gordon, who said he was further inspired to go faster after watching Greg Biffle and Dale Earnhardt Jr. post very quick laps before his run. He decided he would not even think about a conservative lap.
Passion and the dedication of his crew also played a part, Gordon said.
Second to Gordon's Chevrolet was Biffle's Ford, which got around the track at 124.497.
Third was Biffle's teammate, Mark Martin, who swept the pole and the race from 1993-95 and has four road-course victories. He got around at 124.464.
Martin will line up on the inside of the second row, flanked by defending race champion Tony Stewart, who went 124.267 in a Chevy.
Rookie Edwards wins Truck race
Gladeville, Tenn. -- Rookie Carl Edwards won his second straight NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race Friday night, capturing the Federated Auto Parts 200 at Nashville Superspeedway.
Edwards' win -- his third of the season -- was by 1.209 seconds, about 10 truck lengths, over Ted Musgrave.
Edwards, who qualified his Ford sixth, was forced to the rear of the 33-truck field at the start because of an engine change. The 23-year-old battled into the top 10 by the 17th lap around the 1.333-mile concrete-surfaced oval.
Edwards took the lead for the first time -- from teammate Jon Wood -- on lap 60. He passed Musgrave's Dodge on the 103rd lap and built a lead of as much as two seconds.
Edwards averaged 129.557 mph for the 200 miles.
Tracy takes provisional pole
Lexington, Ohio -- Paul Tracy turned a fast early lap Friday to win the provisional pole CART Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio and move within two points of series leader Bruno Junqueira.
Regardless of what happens in qualifying today, Tracy, who picked up a point in the standings, will start on the front row of Sunday's race. Tracy's fast lap of 120.957 mph came on his fifth of 13 qualifying laps in the 40-minute session.
Alex Tagliani was second at 120.468 mph.