BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 18, 2004) – Jeff Gordon led a Hendrick Motorsports sweep of the top three positions in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series qualifying at Michigan International Speedway on Friday, touring the two-mile oval at 190.865 mph (37.723 seconds) in the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet.
“What an awesome job this race team has done,” said Gordon, who earned his second pole position of 2004. Really, all of Hendrick Motorsports is very impressive with what they’ve accomplished here lately.
“Engines, chassis, the bodies—everything has been phenomenal. The chemistry among all the teams has been great.”
For the second consecutive week, rookie Brian Vickers will line up on the outside pole in the No. 25 GMAC Financial Services Chevy. The effort, his fourth consecutive top-five start and his eighth top-10 qualifying effort overall, was just .138 seconds back of Gordon.
“Jeff (Gordon) told me not to ask too much from the car and get to the gas too soon during my qualifying lap,” Vickers said. “He said the car would get tighten. I did it anyway in Turns 3 and 4. That error probably cost us the pole.
“I’d love to have the pole it, but I think we’ve got a car that is going to race well on Sunday.”
The 20-year-old Vickers was followed by teammate Jimmie Johnson, who locked down the third spot with his ninth top-10 qualifying run of the season in the No. 48 Lowe’s Monte Carlo.
Despite qualifying 31st, Terry Labonte will start at the rear of the field Sunday after the Kellogg’s Racing crew was forced to change engines following Friday’s morning practice session.
NASCAR rules stipulate that any team changing an engine during the weekend must forfeit its qualifying position and move to the rear of the starting grid.
Sunday’s NEXTEL Cup event will be broadcast live from Michigan International Speedway by FOX and MRN Radio beginning at 1 p.m. ET.