Dale Earnhardt Jr. posted his first career pole at Richmond on Friday.
"I'm surprised as anybody," Junior said after scoring his 11th career Sprint Cup pole in 461 races.
But it was advantage Jeff Gordon, who qualified second. Gordon desperately needs a solid finish on Saturday to leapfrog over fellow wild-card contenders in the Federated Auto Parts 400 to earn the 12th and final NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup spot.
The No. 24 team trails Kyle Busch, who is 12th in the point standings, by 12 points. With Gordon rolling off 13 spots ahead of the No. 18 team, Gordon's already off to a good start.
But it's just the beginning.
"I feel like we have a couple of different jobs," Gordon said. "Number one is just win the race, right? That's our job every weekend. But we need to put pressure on our competitors -- pressure on the guys we are going to have to beat to win this race, as well as pressure on the guys we are battling with to make this Chase.
"Certainly he [Busch] is one of th...