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NASCAR NEWS 

Johnson scores Dover Cup pole

Reigning Nextel Cup champion and Chase leader Jimmie Johnson edged Juan Pablo Montoya to score his second pole position of the year in qualifying for the Dodge Dealers 400 at Dover International Speedway.

Johnson, a three-time winner at Dover, had been fastest in practice and backed that up with an impressive first qualifying lap, setting a time of 23.261 seconds at an average speed of 154.765 mph.

He beat Montoya's benchmark by 0.141 seconds en route to his first ever pole at NASCAR's 'monster mile'.

"It was a great lap. I've had a great car all day today and it was a car that allowed me to balance myself and find more speed, the two things that I asked it to do," Johnson said after claiming his 11th career Nextel Cup pole.

"Track position is really important here but the thing we really focused on today was getting that first pit stall. So mission accomplished there, but this is just one day of many long ones to come."

Just a day after celebrating his 32nd birthday, Montoya looked set to get his maiden Cup pole when he completed his run, going more than a tenth quicker than the fastest at the time. However, he had to settle for second for the third time this year, having started from the front row at Indy and Bristol already.

"Generally it was pretty good," Montoya said. "The car was a little loose in practice and there it got a little tight coming out of four. There might have been a bit more lap time in there. It's very important if you can start up front in tracks like this, it makes night and day (difference) for a good race."

Denny Hamlin, who had been second fastest in practice, also carried his speed into qualifying and ended up third, ahead of fellow Chase rival Kurt Busch, who managed to improve the tight handling of his car to make it looser for his qualifying run.

"We got the car pretty consistent from where we were," Hamlin said. "We really didn't make to many mistakes on the racetrack. We were just a little bit tight there and felt we gave up the pole out of [turn] four."

Martin Truex Jr, winner at this track in June and also a Chase contender, will be starting from fifth on Sunday. He will be partnered in the third row of the grid by Scott Riggs, who was fastest from the drivers who needed to qualify on time, at the wheel of the No. 10 Gillett Evernham Dodge.

Kevin Harvick, Bobby Labonte, and the Roush Fenway Fords of Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth, rounded up the top ten of the grid for Sunday's race.

Meanwhile AJ Allmendinger was the fastest Toyota driver qualifying 11th, despite a blown engine in the morning practice which prevented him from getting any running before qualifying. His miles at the wheel of Ganassi's Busch Series Dodge in practice this morning made up in some way for the lost track time on his Toyota.

"I really didn't know what to expect for that lap," said Allmendinger. "Basically we had a bungee cord holding the car in fourth gear. I have to thank BV (teammate Brian Vickers) and all his guys because that was his set-up in the car.

"All we could do was take what they had in their car in practice and they were fast and happy so that was our best shot."

Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, who rank second and third in the Chase, qualified way down and will start the race from the fourteenth row of the grid. However, of the Chase contenders it was New Hampshire winner Clint Bowyer who was the slowest qualifier, ending up the penultimate car on the grid.

Sam Hornish Jr, who was on his second attempt at making his maiden Nextel Cup start for Roger Penske, failed to do so again. He was a bit unlucky with his qualifying draw however, as he was the first driver to complete his run. He had been 38th in practice and went slower in qualifying, missing Sunday's race by quite a margin.

Michael Waltrip picked up the last spot on the grid, while Ward Burton, Scott Wimmer, Kevin Lepage, Dave Blaney and Jeremy Mayfield all failed to qualify.

Pos  Driver             Make       Speed    Time
 1.  Jimmie Johnson     Chevrolet  154.766  23.261
 2.  Juan Montoya       Dodge      153.833  23.402  + 0.141
 3.  Denny Hamlin       Chevrolet  153.570  23.442  + 0.181
 4.  Kurt Busch         Dodge      153.518  23.450  + 0.189
 5.  Martin Truex Jr    Chevrolet  153.211  23.497  + 0.236
 6.  Scott Riggs        Dodge      152.931  23.540  + 0.279
 7.  Kevin Harvick      Chevrolet  152.879  23.548  + 0.287
 8.  Bobby Labonte      Dodge      152.439  23.616  + 0.355
 9.  Greg Biffle        Ford       152.413  23.620  + 0.359
10.  Matt Kenseth       Ford       152.362  23.628  + 0.367
11.  A.J. Allmendinger  Toyota     152.362  23.628  + 0.367
12.  Elliott Sadler     Dodge      152.284  23.640  + 0.379
13.  David Reutimann    Toyota     152.066  23.674  + 0.413
14.  Kasey Kahne        Dodge      152.008  23.683  + 0.422
15.  Carl Edwards       Ford       151.796  23.716  + 0.455
16.  Kyle Petty         Dodge      151.771  23.720  + 0.459
17.  Casey Mears        Chevrolet  151.713  23.729  + 0.468
18.  Joe Nemechek       Chevrolet  151.694  23.732  + 0.471
19.  Dale Jarrett       Toyota     151.668  23.736  + 0.475
20.  Tony Raines        Chevrolet  151.643  23.740  + 0.479
21.  Dale Earnhardt Jr  Chevrolet  151.515  23.760  + 0.499
22.  Kyle Busch         Chevrolet  151.477  23.766  + 0.505
23.  Brian Vickers      Toyota     151.464  23.768  + 0.507
24.  Ryan Newman        Dodge      151.407  23.777  + 0.516
25.  Johnny Sauter      Chevrolet  151.381  23.781  + 0.520
26.  Ken Schrader       Ford       151.197  23.810  + 0.549
27.  Jeff Gordon        Chevrolet  151.178  23.813  + 0.552
28.  Tony Stewart       Chevrolet  151.172  23.814  + 0.553
29.  John Andretti      Dodge      151.051  23.833  + 0.572
30.  Jamie McMurray     Ford       151.013  23.839  + 0.578
31.  Mark Martin        Chevrolet  150.912  23.855  + 0.594
32.  J.J. Yeley         Chevrolet  150.880  23.860  + 0.599
33.  Reed Sorenson      Dodge      150.880  23.860  + 0.599
34.  Jeff Green         Chevrolet  150.804  23.872  + 0.611
35.  David Ragan        Ford       150.628  23.900  + 0.639
36.  Jeff Burton        Chevrolet  150.420  23.933  + 0.672
37.  David Gilliland    Ford       149.782  24.035  + 0.774
38.  Paul Menard        Chevrolet  149.564  24.070  + 0.809
39.  Kenny Wallace      Ford       149.068  24.150  + 0.889
40.  David Stremme      Dodge      148.926  24.173  + 0.912
41.  Robby Gordon       Ford       148.173  24.296  + 1.035
42.  Clint Bowyer       Chevrolet  148.038  24.318  + 1.057
43.  Michael Waltrip    Toyota     150.344  23.945  + 0.684
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