(AP) Jeff Gordon will try to race his way into NASCAR's playoffs from the pole position.
The four-time champion turned a track-record qualifying lap of 130.599 mph at Richmond International Raceway on Friday night to win his 73rd career pole position, and his first this season.
His lap pushed Kurt Busch to the outside of the front row. Busch and Gordon are among 10 drivers in a battle for the final spots in the Chase for the championship. The field will be set by Saturday's race.
The pole extended to 21 Gordon's string of seasons with a pole position, and comes when he needs it the most. Gordon is 11th in points, one spot and six points behind Busch.
Defending series champion Brad Keselowski qualified third.