BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) -- Jeff Gordon hopes his first pole of the season might temporarily silence his critics.
Gordon took the top qualifying spot Friday, setting a track record by running a lap at 127.216 mph at Bristol Motor Speedway.
It was the 40th pole of his career, first since August, and showed he could be back to his old form.
Gordon, who won his fourth Winston Cup championship last season, is off to a slow start this year by his standards, with a seventh at Las Vegas being his highest finish.
He's sixth in the points standings and has been dogged by questions about his struggles.
"Our pole right here might quiet some of that," said Gordon, who broke Steve Park's mark of 126.370 mph set in 2000.
"Plus it helps our confidence and our own morale and it gives us a great boost. A win would also help, winning fixes a lot of things."
Gordon, who gave car owner Rick Hendrick his first pole at Bristol since 1986, knocked Robby Gordon off of the top spot for Sunday's Food City 500.
Robby Gordon ran a 126.478 and thought it was good enough to start first until Jeff Gordon went out as the 42nd of 43 cars and beat his speed, putting two Chevrolets on the front row.
"My guys were giving me a bunch of bull that he wanted it more than I did," Robby Gordon said. "I'm not going to live it down for at least another two weeks now."
The Gordons, who are not related, tangled on the track in the final laps of last year's finale in New Hampshire, then had words about the bump Robby put on Jeff to pass him.
But they congratulated each other's qualifying efforts and brushed aside any thought of lingering animosity.
"Robby and I are fine," Jeff said. "I work hard at trying to put things like that behind me. We're going to race hard, we're going to bump, we're going to bang somewhere down the road.
"It comes and goes and you try not to hold any grudges because holding a grudge will usually get you in more trouble than anything else."
Jeremy Mayfield and Jimmy Spencer qualified third and fourth in Dodges and were followed by Mike Skinner in a Chevrolet, Matt Kenseth in a Ford, Jerry Nadeau, rookie Ryan Newman, Michael Waltrip and defending race winner Elliott Sadler.
There were five Chevrolets in the top 10, the strongest effort this season for the beleaguered make.
General Motors has been complaining about an aerodynamic disadvantage through the first five races of the year -- a Chevy has yet to make it to the winner's circle -- and NASCAR approved some front-end help for the car before the April 5 race at Texas.
But downforce, the main issue the Chevys claim they are lacking, is not an issue at Bristol's .533-mile ring, so the Monte Carlo doesn't have a disadvantage here.
"I'm so glad to be at a track where we don't have to worry about all the junk, where the downforce and aerodynamics are not an issue," Jeff Gordon said.
"This is a track where experience is maybe a little more important and I prefer that."
Gordon, who has four wins at Bristol, believes a combination of poor qualifying efforts and the struggles of the Chevrolet have slowed his start this year.
But he's had two strong qualifying runs, and he was second last week at Darlington, dominating the race until his car was damaged in an 11-car wreck.
"The Chevrolet just hasn't been as good as the Dodges and the Fords," Gordon said. "I honestly believe that has hurt us a little bit."
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