Jeff Gordon surged to the 80th pole of his career, Saturday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway.
Gordon, in his final full season driving the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet, notched a fast lap of 194.793 mph on the 2.66-mile track. The Pole was also Gordon's third of the season and fourth at Talladega.
Kasey Kahne pushed the Hendrick No. 5 Chevy to a lap of 193.685 mph, snaring the second starting spot for Sunday's GEICO 500. Gordon, the last driver to make a qualifying attempt, was .281 seconds better than teammate Kahne.
Ryan Blaney qualified third at 193.611 mph in the Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford. Teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson were next, placing all four Hendrick Motorsports cars in the top five starting spots.
The session was the series' first since NASCAR mandated rules changes for qualifying on tracks where restrictor plates are used to limit engine horsepower. The group qualifying format introduced before the 2014 season often created large aerodynamic packs, gamesmanship and the threat of multi-car crashes.
Drivers participated in single-car runs, released to the track in staggered intervals, in two rounds -- the opening round for all cars, with the final 12 advancing