Gordon wins fourth pole of season at Phoenix

AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Jamie McMurray was relieved after Jeff Gordon easily took the pole from him Thursday at Phoenix
International Raceway.

"I guess trying to find the positive in it, it wasn't even
close," McMurray said after taking the outside front-row spot for
Saturday's Subway Fresh Fit 500.

"I hit the wall at both ends and I was sliding all over the
place. There was nothing else I could do. I hate it when you get
beat by a hundredth of a second or something like that. There was
no question about this one."

McMurray, driving a Ford for Fenway Roush Racing, was sitting in
the top spot with a lap of 132.577 mph when Gordon drove his
Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet onto the 1-mile oval in the fading
light and cooling temperatures of late afternoon.

The four-time NASCAR champion left no doubt about this one,
turning a lap of 133.136 that even surprised him.

"After Jamie put up his lap, I told my guys, 'Sorry. That's
four-tenths. We don't have that much.' But we did," Gordon said.

"Right near the end of practice, we weren't very happy with the
car and we decided to make some major adjustments -- mean some major
adjustments. It was way more than we normally do for qualifying,"
he added, grinning.

Gordon, who was 37th of the 50 cars that made qualifying
attempts, got the benefit of a cooler track surface, but none of
the other drivers who went late could keep him from winning his
fourth pole of the season and the 59th of his career.

That tied him with three-time champion Darrell Waltrip for
fourth on the career list.

The qualifying session marked the end of the first official day
for NASCAR's new Car of Tomorrow on a track bigger than a half

"We didn't really know what to expect," Gordon said of the
COT. "Qualifying is one thing. We'll see how this car is when
you're around other cars on the track in practice tomorrow and then
again in the race on Saturday."

Although he has yet to win a race this season, Gordon is off to
a great start with five top five finishes and six top 10s in the
first seven races. He heads into the Phoenix race eight points
ahead of runner-up Jeff Burton, last week's winner at Texas.

"So far, everything has been good," Gordon said. "If this
team keeps giving me great cars and the effort they've been giving,
this could be a great season."

Denny Hamlin took the third spot at 132.567, followed by Scott Riggs at 132.338, Gordon's teammate and the reigning Nextel Cup
champion Jimmie Johnson at 132.275, Kurt Busch at 131.936, Martin Truex Jr. at 131.670 and Kevin Harvick, who won both Phoenix Cup
races last year, at 131.661.

The top qualifying Toyota driver was Dave Blaney in 11th, with
rookie David Reutimann in 25th the only other Camry driver to make
the field on qualifying time.

Reutimann's veteran teammates, Dale Jarrett and team owner
Michael Waltrip did not fare as well. Waltrip was 38th overall and
failed to qualify for the seventh straight race, while Jarrett was
48th and had to use the fifth of six allowable former series
champion's provisionals to make the 43-car field.