Click to view our fantastic subscription offers

Instant access to the F1 paddock

You have 10 views remaining

You have read 5 stories this month. After 15, you will need to register or subscribe.

Register with us for free to view 25 stories a month.

Or subscribe to AUTOSPORT+ for unlimited news stories and access to our exclusive subscriber-only content.

Our commitment to quality journalism

We've introduced metered access to AUTOSPORT which will ensure that the majority of our visitors can continue to view the site for free. But we think that is worth a small investment from those who use it most, so that we can continue to send the leading experts in their field to motor racing paddocks all over the world to break the latest news and produce the most compelling interviews and race reports.

Every visitor gets 15 free page views per month. Once you reach the limit you can register to get 25 views or choose one of our value-for-money subscription packages to continue viewing and to get additional access to a range of features including:

  • Unlimited access to AUTOSPORT with news and views from the paddock
  • Enjoy AUTOSPORT+: subscriber-only analysis, comment and top-quality pictures
  • Get AUTOSPORT magazine in a digital format on your computer or iPad every week
  • Full access to FORIX - the world's best motorsport statistics website

We greatly appreciate your continued support to keep AUTOSPORT at the forefront of motorsport coverage, and we look forward to welcoming you as a new subscriber.

Glenn Freeman Editor
Find out more about our subscriptions

Johnson on Daytona 500 pole

2008 Daytona 500 pole sitter Jimmie JohnsonReigning NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson will start his title defence next weekend from pole position after setting the fastest lap in Sunday qualifying for the Daytona 500.

Johnson set a lap of 48.109 seconds, at an average speed of 187.075 mph, securing his first pole position of the 2008 season and running almost a tenth of a second quicker than the second-placed Toyota of Michael Waltrip, who secured the outside pole for next weekend's race.

"That was a great lap for us," Johnson said. "I thought with the wind it might slow the car down a little bit. The guys worked really hard to give me a car that we could come down here and race with and also contend for the pole with, so I am very proud and happy with this effort.

"Great engine, great body, great car. We saw what we could do last night with a backup car, so I couldn't be more proud of all my guys and all of Hendrick Motorsports."

The Hendrick Motorsports driver, who was close to winning the Bud Shootout on Saturday night with his backup car after crashing in practice, made the most of his fine-tuned Chevrolet Impala which had already been quickest in practice 24 hours earlier.

The gusty winds were the talking point of the session as they randomly affected some drivers more than others and caused some to lose the balance of their cars relative to Saturday's practice.

Michael Waltrip claimed he was the happiest man in Daytona because he was the fastest non-guaranteed driver and the only one of them to secure his starting position, as the grid for the Daytona 500 from the second row to the last row will be determined next Thursday through the Gatorade Duel qualifying races.

A year ago, Waltrip's car was caught during an inspection at Daytona with an illegal fuel additive in its engine's intake manifold and his team's cars struggled for speed. Twelve months later his squad is clearly on the road to recovery.

"Jimmie Johnson knew he was in the race when he got up this morning," Waltrip said. "I wasn't, so I'm going to have to say that I'm the happiest man in Daytona. It's a really good day for our team and I'm just thankful for the fact that we're here.

"There was the question a few months back of what was going to happen to us but we survived and now to be where we are is just a great feeling."

Joe Nemechek just missed out on the front row after holding on to pole position for a while and ending up third fastest in his Hendrick-engined Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet.

David Reutimann, who needed to qualify on time like Waltrip and Nemechek, ended up fourth fastest, secure that he will be on the grid for the season opener without needing a good result in the Gatorade Duels.

Four Toyotas were among the top ten in qualifying, confirming their testing speed with Dave Blaney setting the fifth fastest lap and Denny Hamlin ending up eighth. Boris Said also locked himself in the field with the ninth best lap of the day, while Jeff Gordon rounded up the top ten.

Patrick Carpentier was fastest among the Raybestos rookies, ending up eleventh, and will probably still need a good result next Thursday in the Gatorade Duel to lock himself in the field. However, he was happy with his qualifying effort.

"The wind is different than what we had yesterday and with these cars it seems like when it's windy it stops the front of the car a little bit so it gets you a bit more tight but we worked out through it so it should be good," he said.

"To do that time today pretty much backed up what we had yesterday so I'm very proud of it."

Meanwhile Jacques Villeneuve ended up disappointed with his run, which did not achieve what he was hoping for. Like Carpentier, he doesn't have his participation in the race guaranteed and he will have to wait until next Thursday to know if he will race or not in the Daytona 500.

"The balance was different than yesterday and I think we scrubbed off a little bit of speed," said Villeneuve. "During the quick lap I wasn't on the track where I wanted to be and probably lost a little bit.

"We were hoping to be quicker. We might need the qualifying races. When you have to qualify on time it makes it difficult because even if you're quick but not quick enough here you might have a bad qualifying race and not make the show so it's a little bit tough."

Dario Franchitti ended up 39th fastest, although he already has a starting spot guaranteed for the race and didn't need to rely on his qualifying speed. He says he is actually more focused on Thursday's Gatorade Duel, which will be his first ever Sprint Cup race.

"Hopefully it's one of those deals that if you're not going to be on the front row, just get yourself the best position that you can and look forward to Thursday and see if we've got a good race car, because that's going to be much more important than a qualifying car," the Scot said.

Sam Hornish Jr was the slowest rookie qualifier, although like Franchitti he is already qualified for the Daytona 500 thanks to his owner-points swap with Kurt Busch, who was not much faster than his rookie teammate ending up 31st.

Pos  Driver              Make        Speed     Time
 1.  Jimmie Johnson      Chevrolet   187.075   48.109
 2.  Michael Waltrip     Toyota      186.734   48.197 + 0.088
 3.  Joe Nemechek        Chevrolet   186.498   48.258 + 0.149
 4.  David Reutimann     Toyota      186.463   48.267 + 0.158
 5.  Dave Blaney         Toyota      186.120   48.356 + 0.247
 6.  Casey Mears         Chevrolet   186.054   48.373 + 0.264
 7.  Travis Kvapil       Ford        185.958   48.398 + 0.289
 8.  Denny Hamlin        Toyota      185.947   48.401 + 0.292
 9.  Boris Said          Ford        185.893   48.415 + 0.306
10.  Jeff Gordon         Chevrolet   185.858   48.424 + 0.315
11.  Patrick Carpentier  Dodge       185.766   48.448 + 0.339
12.  Tony Stewart        Toyota      185.651   48.478 + 0.369
13.  David Ragan         Ford        185.594   48.493 + 0.384
14.  Matt Kenseth        Ford        185.517   48.513 + 0.404
15.  Dale Earnhardt Jr   Chevrolet   185.479   48.523 + 0.414
16.  Brian Vickers       Toyota      185.475   48.524 + 0.415
17.  Jacques Villeneuve  Toyota      185.452   48.530 + 0.421
18.  Mark Martin         Chevrolet   185.429   48.536 + 0.427
19.  A.J. Allmendinger   Toyota      185.422   48.538 + 0.429
20.  David Gilliland     Ford        185.410   48.541 + 0.432
21.  Dale Jarrett        Toyota      185.345   48.558 + 0.449
22.  Scott Riggs         Chevrolet   185.193   48.598 + 0.489
23.  Ryan Newman         Dodge       185.143   48.611 + 0.502
24.  Greg Biffle         Ford        185.071   48.630 + 0.521
25.  Jamie McMurray      Ford        185.010   48.646 + 0.537
26.  Regan Smith         Chevrolet   184.964   48.658 + 0.549
27.  Kenny Wallace       Chevrolet   184.953   48.661 + 0.552
28.  Robby Gordon        Dodge       184.850   48.688 + 0.579
29.  Kasey Kahne         Dodge       184.828   48.694 + 0.585
30.  Eric McClure        Chevrolet   184.828   48.694 + 0.585
31.  Kyle Busch          Toyota      184.809   48.699 + 0.590
32.  Jeremy Mayfield     Chevrolet   184.612   48.751 + 0.642
33.  Kevin Harvick       Chevrolet   184.589   48.757 + 0.648
34.  Kurt Busch          Dodge       184.540   48.770 + 0.661
35.  Elliott Sadler      Dodge       184.521   48.775 + 0.666
36.  Carl Edwards        Ford        184.487   48.784 + 0.675
37.  Ken Schrader        Dodge       184.483   48.785 + 0.676
38.  Paul Menard         Chevrolet   184.415   48.803 + 0.694
39.  Dario Franchitti    Dodge       184.351   48.820 + 0.711
40.  Martin Truex Jr     Chevrolet   184.290   48.836 + 0.727
41.  Reed Sorenson       Dodge       184.264   48.843 + 0.734
42.  Juan Montoya        Dodge       184.241   48.849 + 0.740
43.  Sam Hornish Jr      Dodge       184.226   48.853 + 0.744
44.  Clint Bowyer        Chevrolet   184.106   48.885 + 0.776
45.  Bill Elliott        Ford        184.090   48.889 + 0.780
46.  Jeff Burton         Chevrolet   183.884   48.944 + 0.835
47.  Bobby Labonte       Dodge       183.857   48.951 + 0.842
48.  John Andretti       Chevrolet   183.673   49.000 + 0.891
49.  Kyle Petty          Dodge       183.374   49.080 + 0.971
50.  Sterling Marlin     Chevrolet   183.326   49.093 + 0.984
51.  J.J. Yeley          Toyota      182.994   49.182 + 1.073
52.  Stanton Barrett     Chevrolet   182.823   49.228 + 1.119
53.  Carl Long           Dodge       180.796   49.780 + 1.671
  More news  
Read the AUTOSPORT Digital Edition
Visit the shop
See highlights from 60 years of AUTOSPORT
Breaking news feed
Live commentary feed
Penske finally gets Daytona glory
Newman leads Penske 1-2 in Daytona
Villeneuve out of Daytona 500
Hamlin gives Toyota first Cup win
Earnhardt wins first qualifying race