NASCAR ROUNDUP/PREVIEW: Gordon looks to put 2010 fight in Texas behind him heading into tonight's Sprint Cup showdown; Georgia's Ragan wins pole; Edwards win Nationwide race late Friday

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- Jeff Gordon prefers to talk about what happened at Texas last year before his two race-ending crashes and the backstretch brawl with Jeff Burton.

"I put it behind us really," Gordon said Friday. "We certainly want to put more focus on the good run that we had earlier last year. Felt like we had a car that could win. We want to try to recreate that again this time."

Gordon had led six times for a race-high 124 laps last April at the high-banked 1 -mile Texas Motor Speedway and was trying to get back to the front late before getting caught up in a spectacular nine-car wreck that took him out the race.

Then in November, Burton sent Gordon's car crashing into an outside wall during a caution period.

An angry Gordon walked from the top to the bottom of the track and with both hands pushed Burton hard before taking some swings. The two were separated by NASCAR safety officials.

Burton took full responsibility for the accident -- "100 percent, it was my fault," he said -- and had no problem with what Gordon did. The two then rode in the same ambulance to the infield care center.

In April, Stewart got loose in a pack and made contact with Gordon, leading to the big wreck.

When Gordon got out of his mangled No. 24 Chevrolet, he walked directly to Stewart, who was only halfway out of his car, still sitting on the door frame. Stewart put his hand on Gordon's shoulder and they then walked away toward the pits together. Stewart took full responsibility for that accident.

There has been plenty of tough luck at Texas for Gordon, who has two last-place finishes there to go along with nine top 10s. He won the spring race in 2004.

Gordon qualified 32nd for Saturday night's race at Texas, which will be the 21st Sprint Cup race at the track but the first at night. And the altered schedule could have had an impact on that poor showing.

"It's caught us off guard for sure. We made a little bit of a mistake and focused too much on the race setup (Thursday) and didn't make a qualifying run and it hurt us because we couldn't get the lap in to get our draw or running order position for qualifying," Gordon said. "We won't really know until we get through the race on the rest of it because we've not been on the track in the same conditions that we're going to be racing."



FORT WORTH, Texas -- David Ragan feels like he is taking the right steps to get up to par with his Roush Fenway teammates. Now he has his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup pole.

Ragan, an Unadilla native, earned his first pole in 153 career races with a lap of 189.820 mph Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. He easily took the top spot from teammate Carl Edwards (188.521 mph), who will start on the front row with him.

"We were so close. That is cool for David though," Edwards said. "If we had to be second to anyone in qualifying David would be the guy. Those guys have been working really hard."

It is the third time in the last four races that Ragan is starting in the top six. The only race in that stretch he didn't start that high was last week at Martinsville, where he started 14th and then went on to a season-best eighth-place finish.

"I think the three guys that are on our team are the three best drivers in the garage. It puts pressure on us to go and run fast," Ragan said. "It's good to have come out of the box with some good runs, some good qualifying runs, a couple of good races. So we've just got to continue to get better and concentrate week to week."

Roush drivers Matt Kenseth (fourth) and Greg Biffle (ninth) are also starting in the top 10.

Edwards had already won a pole earlier Friday for the Nationwide Series race at the 1 -mile, high-banked track.

Sprint Cup points leader Kyle Busch qualified 11th and Kevin Harvick, coming to Texas off consecutive wins, starts 29th.

"I'd certainly like to think so no matter where we end up in qualifying I think our race car's a lot better," Busch said.

Busch has won five Nationwide Series races and two Trucks Series races at Texas, but is 0 for 12 in Sprint Cup racing in the Lone Star State.

Denny Hamlin, who swept both races in Texas last year, starts 23rd. Hamlin will try to match Edwards, the only driver with three Sprint Cup wins at Texas.

Ragan won a Nationwide pole at Texas in 2007, but his best previous Sprint Cup start at any track had been fourth for four races, including Texas two years ago. He has finished third three times.

"Qualifying is just part of the weekend, like practice is. Pit stops are part of the weekend, being competitive on restarts is a part. We've got to put all those parts together," Ragan said. "We've taken necessary steps to get better. ... Those steps are part of the process of becoming a race winner, a team like Carl."