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Ambrose makes it two poles in a row
By Jenna Fryer
14:00 AEST Sat Jun 23 2012

Marcos Ambrose has claimed his second straight pole position after securing top starting spot for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma with a fastest lap around the 3.2-kilometre road course.

The Australian knocked off Jimmie Johnson, then waited to see if Jeff Gordon could beat him.

"I don't know if I got it all, but I got a lot of it," Ambrose said after his lap, which averaged 153.309 kph.

Gordon, the career leader on road courses with nine victories, was the last driver to attempt to qualify. He ran an aggressive lap around the 10-turn course, and just missed the pole with an average speed of 152.996 kph.

Gordon will start second.

"I thought it was a really good lap," Gordon said. "Hey, you've got to credit where credit is due: Marcos laid down a heck of a lap and we came up just a little bit short. We knew that was going to be a tough lap to beat."

Ambrose, who excels at road course racing but is showing rapid improvement on ovals and picked up his maiden pole in 134 races last week at Michigan, said his Richard Petty Motorsports had his Ford ready for Sonoma.

"We put a lot of effort into this road course program," said Ambrose, who raced to his lone Cup victory last year on the road course at Watkins Glen.

"I'm thrilled for my team and it takes a whole team to qualify on pole two weeks in a row."

Johnson ended up third, putting the Hendrick Motorsports teammates second and third on the starting grid, but said he's got a lot of work to do on his Chevrolet.

Greg Biffle qualified fourth in a Ford, and was followed by Michael Waltrip Racing teammates Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer, who will start sixth and seventh in Toyotas.

Brothers Kyle and Kurt Busch qualified seventh and eighth, Sprint Cup Series points leader Matt Kenseth was ninth, and Ryan Newman rounded out the top 10.

Brad Keselowski in 13th was the highest qualifying Dodge.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., who ended his four-year losing streak with last week's win at Michigan, qualified 19th.