SONOMA, Calif. - Jeff Gordon flung his Chevrolet through the twisting turns at Infineon Raceway, driving through dirt, bouncing across the washboard-like curbs and nearly bouncing off a concrete wall coming off the final turn Friday.
"We're on a mission," Gordon said after earning the pole for Sunday's NASCAR's Nextel Cup race with a record-breaking lap on the 1.99-mile, 10-turn circuit. "We're not happy with the way things have been going for us lately and all we can do is attack, attack, attack."
Gordon took his second pole in a row, third of the season and 49th of his career with a time of 1:15.968, breaking the record of 1:16.522 set last year by road-racing specialist Boris Said. Gordon's speed was 94.303 mph in qualifying for the Dodge/Save Mart 350.
Gordon chalked up the record to the newly repaved track and a new tire from Goodyear. He was surprised nobody could beat a lap he acknowledged wasn't pretty.
"I felt like I left the door wide open for some of those guys to put us back a few spots," he said.
"I got off the track a little bit over there in turn two," Gordon said. "I can't seem to get away from that spot on the racetrack. That's the same thing we did last year, just not quite as far off the track."
Rusty Wallace and Kurt Busch also were quicker than Said's record but couldn't match Gordon.
Wallace, driving a Dodge, was disappointed after running a lap of 1:16.072.
"When I saw (Gordon) go off course over there, I thought I could beat that," Wallace said. "I thought I threw a pole away with that one."
Busch's Ford got around the course in 1:16.333.
INDYCARS: Helio Castroneves took advantage of fast conditions to shatter the track record at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway and win the pole for tonight's SunTrust Indy Challenge. Castroneves turned a lap at 171.202 mph on the 0.75-mile oval, which was resurfaced during the offseason. Eleven drivers topped the track record of 168.705 mph, set by Gil de Ferran in 2002.
CHAMP CARS: Defending series champion Paul Tracy, Bruno Junqueira and Alex Tagliani were penalized for actions at Sunday's race in Portland, Ore. Tracy and Junqueira were each fined $10,000 for publicly criticizing series officials, and Tracy was docked an additional $5,000 for making an obscene gesture toward officials. Tagliani was penalized two points for failing to follow instructions.