CONCORD, N.C. -- Jeff Gordon said he needed to qualify better to have a chance to return to Victory Lane.
At least for this weekend, mission accomplished.
Gordon, the last of 43 cars to attempt a qualifying lap on Thursday night, used a fast run through Turns 3 and 4 and win the pole for Saturday night's Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Gordon's average lap speed at 194.308 mph barely eclipsed the lap of Kevin Harvick (194.203 mph), who went out just before Gordon.
"Man, that was awesome," Gordon said after clinching his 74th career pole, second of the season and ninth at Charlotte. "It's been a while since we won a pole here in Charlotte and in that kind of fashion.
"With the way the (qualifying) draw was today, there were a lot of fast cars going late. When you didn't see the lap times pick up as much as we thought they would, I didn't know if our late draw would be a great factor."
With six races left in the 2013 season, Gordon has a chance to win a fourth Sprint Cup Series championship but he remains without a victory. He is fourth in the series standings, 32 points behind leader Matt Kenseth.
While his performance has picked up late in the season -- he's finished sixth or higher in three of the four Chase races -- Gordon is certain wins will be necessary to gain on the three drivers ahead of him in points.
In recent months, Gordon has said repeatedly talked of his team performing better on race day than in qualifying and wanted to change that dynamic.
He said he considered a challenge of sorts.
"My team has to trust in me just like I have to trust in them. All we have is that communication back and forth," Gordon said. "These guys have stuck with me all year long at times when I was frustrated with myself and I didn't feel like I was getting the most out of it.
"They also knew they needed to make some adjustments themselves on the (car) set-ups. We've come together -- that's all I can say. Our car are performing better and we're able to build some positive confidence and momentum."
Harvick broke a seven-year drought by winning the pole last weekend at Kansas and nearly made it two-in-a-row on Thursday night.
Harvick turned last weekend's pole into a victory and his team brought the same No. 29 Chevrolet to the track this week.
"We knew we needed to qualify better in the Chase, we knew we had to run better on the mile-and-a-half tracks and (my team) is bringing the cars to the race track to do that and we're capitalizing on it," he said.
Greg Biffle qualified third, Jimmie Johnson was fourth and Kasey Kahne was fifth. Kenseth, the points leader, will line up 20th.
"I don't feel like the (qualifying) draw was a bad draw, we just weren't very good," said Kenseth, who was the first car to qualify. "It was cloudy all day and it was dark (in qualifying), so I don't think that really put us at a deficit."
For the rest of the drivers in the Chase, Dale Earnhardt Jr. starts sixth; Ryan Newman, seventh; Kyle Busch, ninth; Kurt Busch, 10th; Joey Logano, 12th; Clint Bowyer, 14th; and Carl Edwards, 15th.
Nationwide Series regulars Brian Scott and Kyle Larson both did well in qualifying as both were make their Cup series debut in Saturday night's race. Scott will start 19th and Larson 21st.
Larson will move fulltime to the Cup series in 2014 with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing while Scott will run another full Nationwide schedule next season with Richard Chidlress Racing.
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