News & Media


Ambrose edges Gordon for pole at Sonoma

June 22, 2012, NASCAR Wire Service, NASCAR.com

Marcos Ambrose hasn't finished worse than sixth in the past three races at Sonoma. (Getty Images)

SONOMA, Calif. -- On Friday at Sonoma, Marcos Ambrose ran less than half as fast as he had last Saturday at Michigan -- but the result was the same.

Touring the 1.99-mile road course in 75.203 seconds (95.262 mph), Ambrose won the pole for Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350, his second Coors Light Pole Award in as many weekends and the second of his career. Ambrose withstood a determined challenge from Jeff Gordon (95.067 mph) who, as the last driver to make a qualifying attempt, came up just short.

Sonoma

Lineup
Pos.DriverSpeedTime
2. J. Gordon 95.067 75.357
3.J. Johnson 94.79575.574
4. G. Biffle 94.722 75.632
5. M. Truex Jr. 94.686 75.661

* Out Front with Miss Coors Light: Rachel and Marcos

Jimmie Johnson qualified third at 94.795 mph. Greg Biffle (94.722 mph) was fourth, followed by Martin Truex Jr. (94.686 mph).

Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, last year's winner Kurt Busch, series leader Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman will start from positions 6 through 10, respectively. Dale Earnhardt Jr., last week's winner at Michigan and second in points, qualified 19th.

Ambrose won the pole at Michigan last week at 203.241 mph on a lightning-fast, repaved 2-mile oval.

"I think Kentucky next week is going to be about 175 miles per hour, so I'll be gunning for that, as well," Ambrose quipped. "I'm just really thrilled [Friday]. We put a lot of effort into this race. ... We brought a brand-new hot rod for this race -- better than the one we had here last year -- and I'm just thrilled that we can convert.

"It's only one lap. We've got to do a lot more on Sunday, but at least we can go home and say we had the fastest car. It was a good lap. I was more nervous, I think, running [95] miles an hour than I was running 200."

Gordon was ahead of Ambrose's pace until he reached the last two corners.

"There are always places you can gain, and it's risk versus reward," Gordon said. "There are some places where you can lose, too. I felt like I was aggressive in areas where the car was comfortable in practice, and it was giving me signs and feedback that it had good grip.

Notes-n-Nuggets

• Marcos Ambrose scored his second pole in his 135th start.
• Marcos Ambrose is the 10th driver to score his first two poles in consecutive races.
• Marcos Ambrose has had top-10 starts in all five Sonoma races.
• Marcos Ambrose is the 11th foreign-born driver to win a pole in the Cup Series.
• Marcos Ambrose is the fourth repeat pole winner of 2012.
• Marcos Ambrose made his Cup debut at Sonoma in 2008.
• Marcos Ambrose's average finish in the past seven road-course races is 3.2.
• Richard Petty Motorsports scored its eighth pole (second at Sonoma) and third of 2012, all in the past five races.
• Ford scored its seventh pole at Sonoma and sixth of 2012.
• Jeff Gordon (second) posted his sixth front-row start at Sonoma, and second of 2012.
• Jimmie Johnson (third) posted his fourth top-three start at Sonoma.
• Greg Biffle (fourth) scored his best start in 10 races at Sonoma.
• Martin Truex Jr. (fifth) scored his best start in seven races at Sonoma.
• Clint Bowyer (sixth) posted his best road-course start in 13 races.
• Kurt Busch (eighth) posted his best start of 2012
• The top 11 drivers broke the previous track record at Sonoma.
• David Mayhew (33rd), Josh Wise (40th), Tomy Drissi (41st) Landon Cassill (42nd) and Stephen Leicht (43rd) will make their road-course debuts; Mayhew and Drissi will make their Cup debuts.
• One driver failed to qualify: Brian Simo.

"I knew it was a better lap than what we had in practice, but I felt like there were some areas where I left a little bit. If you had to do it all over again, I'd love to take these segments and try to do them again, [but] all in all, I'm very happy."