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Gordon, Johnson, Martin and Earnhardt will start in top four at Talladega

Gordon, Johnson, Martin and Earnhardt will start in top four at Talladega

TALLADEGA, Ala. – Hendrick Motorsports locked up the first two rows for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Talladega Superspeedway after its drivers qualified in the top four starting spots Saturday.

Jeff Gordon circled the 2.5-mile superspeedway in 53.723 seconds at roughly 178.248 mph to pick up his second career pole position there and his 70th overall. Gordon, who has earned at least one pole in each of his last 19 years of Cup competition, now ranks third all-time and first among active drivers in that category. Before Saturday, Gordon was tied with Cale Yarborough on the all-time list with 69 poles.

Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, has six wins, 13 top-five finishes and 17 top-10s in 36 Cup starts at Talladega. His last victory there – April 2007 – came when he started from the pole.

Jimmie Johnson drove his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet to collect the outside pole and toured Talladega in 53.845 seconds at roughly 177.844 mph. This is the second time that Johnson has contributed to an all-Hendrick front row at Talladega and his first time in the second starting spot. In November 2009, he was the pole sitter next to teammate Mark Martin. In 18 Cup starts at Talladega, Johnson has one win, four top-five finishes and eight top-10s.

Martin ran the third-fastest time – 53.856 seconds at roughly 177.807 mph -- on Saturday in his No. 5 CARQUEST Auto Parts/ Chevrolet. The only time Martin has started third at Talladega was April 1995, and he led 88 laps then on his way to Victory Lane. In 46 Cup starts at Talladega, Martin has four wins, 11 top-five finishes and 23 top-10s.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. circled the track in 53.869 seconds at roughly 177.765 mph and will roll off the grid fourth in his No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet. Earnhardt has started fourth only one other time at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. It was April 2002, and he led 133 laps to take the checkered flag.  Overall, Earnhardt has five victories, which ranks him third all-time at the superspeedway behind his father Dale Earnhardt (10 wins) and his teammate Gordon (six). In 22 Cup starts at Talladega, Earnhardt Jr. has five wins, eight top-five finishes and 11 top-10s.

Tune in Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on FOX to watch the 500-mile event unfold.