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Qualifying a wash, Gordon on pole for Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 27, 2009) – Jeff Gordon, who sits atop the driver standings, will line up first for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Martinsville Speedway.

Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, was awarded the pole position after Friday’s qualifying session was rained out. The starting grid was determined by the owner standings, and Jimmie Johnson will line up ninth, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 19th and Mark Martin in 31st. Race coverage starts at 1:30 p.m. on FOX, and the green flag drops at 2 p.m.

Gordon, who will attempt to win his third race from the pole position, has seven total wins at the short track and has started from the top spot eight times during his last 32 starts.

“This is probably the most important place to start on the pole because you get that No. 1 pit stall,” Gordon said. “Either way, I feel like rain or shine we had a shot at getting it. This is one of our best tracks and certainly great timing for us to be leading the points because of the rain today. ... We are just taking advantage of all the hard work we put into the last five races.”
Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, admitted on Friday that Gordon will be tough to beat from that position, especially with the benefit of the first pit stall. Still, Johnson knows his way around the 1.5-mile racetrack. The three-time defending Sprint Cup champion owns five victories there, including one last October when he started from the pole position.

“This track has been good to both of us,” Johnson said. “I think it’s conducive to bumping and banging and hopefully it comes down to a Hendrick fight at the end. I’d love for it to be that. Hopefully it’s all four of our cars. I think Mark is going to be great here. This is a great track for Junior—so in a weird way I’m hoping it comes down to us.”

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