Johnson claims Homestead pole
|By Diego Mejia||Friday, November 20th 2009, 22:41 GMT|
Jimmie Johnson will start from pole position for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway.
The reigning champion edged another step closer to his fourth consecutive title by beating Hendrick team-mate and title contender Mark Martin to the top spot on the grid for the deciding race.
Johnson made the most of his late qualifying draw and the improving track conditions to set a fastest lap of 31.049 seconds at an average speed of 173.919 mph, which was a massive 0.220s quicker than his closest rival.
"The track position, having that first pit stall - one thing that a lot of you might know is how difficult pitroad is here, when the sun is setting, finding your pit box and even seeing the parameters of your pit box," said Johnson. "There's a lot of reasons to qualify well and I'm very happy that we did."
Red Bull rookie Scott Speed matched his best career qualifying performance and will start from the outside of the front row of the grid, just as he did a year ago. Australian Marcos Ambrose had been second up until Speed knocked him off the front row, taking advantage of running last in the order.
"I want to say nothing so special about the lap," said Speed. "The sun going down, especially for us, it helped a lot. I think without that you would be looking at [Martin] and [Johnson] being on the front row and as it turned out I had a good [qualifying] draw and I went out dead last, in the best possible track conditions."
Martin's benchmark lap amazingly stood as the best for nearly the whole session, despite the veteran completing his run early in qualifying when the track was far from at its best, as temperatures on the asphalt were at their highest point when the session started. Martin ended up fourth on the grid for Sunday's 400-mile race.
Tony Stewart was fifth, while Kevin Harvick just missed hitting the wall during his qualifying effort, ending up sixth fastest. He was followed by fellow Chase contenders Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle, whie Bill Elliott was ninth and the best among those making the field on speed.
Several drivers had incidents during their qualifying efforts, including Reed Sorenson, Mike Skinner and David Stremme, all of whom ended up spinning while pushing the limits. Matt Crafton also hit trouble when his engine blew up at the end of his second lap.
Skinner and Stremme both failed to qualify, as did Max Papis, Dave Blaney and Joe Nemechek.
Pos Driver Car Speed Time Gap 1. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 173.919 31.049s 2. Scott Speed Toyota 172.695 31.269s + 0.220s 3. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 172.678 31.272s + 0.223s 4. Mark Martin Chevrolet 172.353 31.331s + 0.282s 5. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 172.243 31.351s + 0.302s 6. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 172.145 31.369s + 0.320s 7. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 172.035 31.389s + 0.340s 8. Greg Biffle Ford 172.024 31.391s + 0.342s 9. Bill Elliott Ford 171.860 31.421s + 0.372s 10. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 171.838 31.425s + 0.376s 11. Jamie McMurray Ford 171.838 31.425s + 0.376s 12. Kurt Busch Dodge 171.794 31.433s + 0.384s 13. AJ Allmendinger Ford 171.750 31.441s + 0.392s 14. Martin Truex Jr Chevrolet 171.646 31.460s + 0.411s 15. Casey Mears Chevrolet 171.630 31.463s + 0.414s 16. Regan Smith Chevrolet 171.576 31.473s + 0.424s 17. David Gilliland Toyota 171.461 31.494s + 0.445s 18. Michael McDowell Toyota 171.434 31.499s + 0.45 s 19. Bobby Labonte Chevrolet 171.396 31.506s + 0.457s 20. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 171.336 31.517s + 0.468s 21. Elliott Sadler Dodge 171.331 31.518s + 0.469s 22. David Reutimann Toyota 171.276 31.528s + 0.479s 23. Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet 171.162 31.549s + 0.500s 24. Carl Edwards Ford 170.994 31.580s + 0.531s 25. Kasey Kahne Dodge 170.967 31.585s + 0.536s 26. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 170.967 31.585s + 0.536s 27. Brad Keselowski Dodge 170.816 31.613s + 0.564s 28. Travis Kvapil Chevrolet 170.805 31.615s + 0.566s 29. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 170.794 31.617s + 0.568s 30. Kyle Busch Toyota 170.648 31.644s + 0.595s 31. Erik Darnell Ford 170.530 31.666s + 0.617s 32. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 170.454 31.680s + 0.631s 33. Brian Vickers Toyota 170.411 31.688s + 0.639s 34. Matt Kenseth Ford 170.379 31.694s + 0.645s 35. Joey Logano Toyota 170.272 31.714s + 0.665s 36. Paul Menard Ford 170.266 31.715s + 0.666s 37. Matt Crafton Toyota 169.881 31.787s + 0.738s 38. Denny Hamlin Toyota 169.715 31.818s + 0.769s 39. Michael Waltrip Toyota 169.353 31.886s + 0.837s 40. John Andretti Chevrolet 169.274 31.901s + 0.852s 41. David Ragan Ford 169.072 31.939s + 0.890s 42. Reed Sorenson Dodge 169.003 31.952s + 0.903s 43. Terry Labonte Toyota Did not qualify: Joe Nemechek Toyota 170.708 31.633s + 0.584s Dave Blaney Toyota 168.940 31.964s + 0.915s Mike Skinner Chevrolet 168.660 32.017s + 0.968s Max Papis Toyota 168.529 32.042s + 0.993s David Stremme Chevrolet