AVONDALE, Ariz. (April 22, 2005) – Coming into this week’s NEXTEL Cup festivities at Phoenix International Raceway, Jeff Gordon had never won a race or pole position in the Arizona desert.
Scratch one of those from the list.
Driving his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, the four-time champion blazed to the top speed in Friday’s time trials, covering the one-mile track at 133.675 mph (26.931 seconds) to put himself in prime position for a run at Victory Lane in Saturday evening’s race.
And Gordon’s Hendrick Motorsports teammates weren’t far behind.
Brian Vickers posted a top-five run, nailing down the fifth-best lap to earn the No. 25 GMAC/ditech.com Chevy a place on the inside of Row 3.
It was Vickers’ third stellar qualifying performance in as many attempts at Phoenix, where he’s started in the top five in two previous appearances with a pair of outside poles to his credit.
Atop the NEXTEL Cup standings with seven top-10 finishes in seven races this season, Jimmie Johnson and Team Lowe’s Racing arrived at PIR prepared for another solid effort.
Johnson, a West Coast native from El Cajon, Calif., will start 12th in the No. 48 Chevrolet. He has two top-10s in three races at Phoenix.
Kyle Busch qualified 27th in the No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevrolet and comes into his first Cup start at Avondale-based track with confidence following a second-place NASCAR Busch Series showing there in 2004.
After starting from the pole at California Speedway in February and finishing second the following race in his hometown of Las Vegas, it seems the 19-year-old Raybestos Rookie enjoys competing out west.
Scheduled for a 7:55 p.m. ET green flag, Saturday’s event will be carried live on FOX and MRN Radio. Television coverage will be at 7:30 p.m. ET.