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Trackside Reports Live from Phoenix International Raceway · Becca Gladden · Thursday April 19, 2007
Jeff Gordon proved to be the fastest car in Nextel Cup qualifying Thursday for this weekend’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 from Phoenix International Raceway. Along with being the first night race of the 2007 season, it will also be the third to feature NASCAR’s recently debuted Car of Tomorrow. Teams anticipate learning more about the heavier, boxier car on the one-mile Phoenix tri-oval after its first two runs on the short tracks of Bristol and Martinsville.
Gordon, who went out 37th, posted a lap time of 27.040 with a speed of 133.136. That was enough to easily hold off the final 13 qualifiers to take home the pole hardware; still, Gordon remained skeptical the car was going to be the one to beat in the race. According to the Rainbow Warrior, running in the comfort of daytime doesn’t necessarily prove the No. 24 car will be good come the final 100 laps Saturday night.
“This track changes a good bit (from daytime to nighttime),” he explained. “It definitely loses a lot of grip when that sun is out, and the sun is intense here. So, obviously track temperature means a lot, and the cooler temperatures are optimal. We expect them to change quite a bit (on Saturday).”
For some other highlights of Gordon’s conversation at the hauler Friday with myself and others, please click here.
Jamie McMurray continued his strong season by scoring the outside pole For Saturday night, with Denny Hamlin, Scott Riggs and Jimmie Johnson rounding out the Top 5. Drivers with later draw times seemed to benefit from cooling track temperatures, as all five of the top qualifiers went out in the second half of the field.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who qualified 15th, was peppered with questions from the media about last weekend’s unusual occurrence at Texas Motor Speedway. Junior, whose car was wrecked, finished the race in Kyle Busch’s No. 5 car after Busch left the track prematurely. Junior explained that he didn’t see anything wrong with what happened and that he felt it was something drivers would have done commonly in days gone by. “I think that (Kyle) would have probably done the same thing,” he added.
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Becca Gladden is no longer a contributor to the Frontstretch, but you can see all her past articles on herbiography and archive page.