Jeff Gordon said last month this will be his final full-time season in NASCAR. He also said next Sunday’s season-opening Daytona 500 will be the last of his career.
So it’s only fitting that Gordon will start from the pole for next weekend’s race.
Gordon won qualifying Sunday at Daytona International Speedway, which was done in knockout rounds for the first time in 57 years of the race.
Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson will join Gordon in the front row.
Now that the front row is set, the remaining 47 drivers will battle for the other 41 positions during Thursday’s Daytona Duels, which will air on Fox Sports 1 at 7 p.m. Eastern. Check out the Duels lineups here.
The new qualifying method was harshly criticized by most of the drivers.
Clint Bowyer ripped into NASCAR for the group qualifying format. He placed the blame on it for causing Reed Sorenson to cause a wreck. A red flag came out with 1 minute, 22 seconds remaining in the opening session when Sorenson and Bowyer wrecked. Denny Hamlin, J.J. Yeley, Trevor Bayne and Bobby Labonte were also involved.
“It ain’t his fault,” Bowyer said. “It’s NASCAR’s fault for putting us out in the middle of this crap for nothing.”
Bowyer added: “There’s no reason to be putting a show on, trying to make something out of nothing that doesn’t need to be.”
Last year’s winner Kevin Harvick said Daytona’s tradition had been ruined.
Three-time champion Tony Stewart called it “a complete embarrassment for our series.”