Johnson claims Charlotte pole

Points leader Jimmie Johnson will start from pole position in Saturday's Sprint Cup Series race at Lowe's Motor Speedway

Johnson claims Charlotte pole

In a delayed qualifying session after rain hampered on-track activities all day, Johnson backed up his impressive pace from earlier in practice with a lap of 28.070 seconds at an average speed of 192.486 mph, the fastest-ever qualifying average for the current specification of Sprint Cup machines.

Cool temperatures had a lot to do with the speed set by Johnson on his qualifying run, but the Hendrick driver looked dominant once again at a track where he has won five times already in the past.

"What a lap," said Johnson. "The speeds that we're running around here in this car are pretty amazing. It was just a great lap. We were great off the truck and were able to fine-tune a little bit and lay down another good one in qualifying."

This weekend's event will mark the first half of the series' playoff, which the reigning champion leads by 12 points over his Hendrick team-mate Mark Martin, who got closest to his time and will start beside him on the front row of the grid.

"It was so much fun to drive that car today, even though I only ran four laps [in practice]," said Martin. "They were four great laps. I knew I needed to step up my game from practice and I did but it wasn't enough. I wanted to make sure I made it back [to the pits], so at least I made it back."

Kasey Kahne had set provisional pole right before Johnson completed his run, but ended up beaten by the Hendrick duo and will start from the second row of the grid beside Roush Fenway's Matt Kenseth.

Behind them the Stewart Haas pairing of Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman will line up fifth and sixth ahead of Mike Bliss, the fastest of the non-guaranteed drivers at the wheel of the #71 TRG Chevrolet.

Brad Keselowski will start eighth on his final outing of the season for Hendrick Motorsports, while Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch rounded out the top-ten.

Juan Pablo Montoya qualified 18th with his car repaired after he got into the back of Jeff Burton's during practice. However it was Brian Vickers who qualified the furthest down the field among the Chase contenders.

David Gilliland qualified 14th on his first outing for Joe Gibbs Racing in the #02 car, while Dave Blaney and Travis Kvapil failed to make the field for Saturday's 500-mile event. Sterling Marlin was hampered by an engine failure during practice and failed to qualify.

Pos Driver Make Speed Time 1. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 192.376 28.070 2. Mark Martin Chevrolet 191.816 28.152 + 0.082 3. Kasey Kahne Dodge 191.056 28.264 + 0.194 4. Matt Kenseth Ford 190.550 28.339 + 0.269 5. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 190.469 28.351 + 0.281 6. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 190.416 28.359 + 0.289 7. Mike Bliss Chevrolet 190.409 28.360 + 0.290 8. Brad Keselowski Chevrolet 190.362 28.367 + 0.297 9. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 190.248 28.384 + 0.314 10. Kyle Busch Toyota 190.248 28.384 + 0.314 11. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 190.221 28.388 + 0.318 12. Joey Logano Toyota 190.027 28.417 + 0.347 13. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 189.980 28.424 + 0.354 14. David Gilliland Toyota 189.727 28.462 + 0.392 15. Kurt Busch Dodge 189.673 28.470 + 0.400 16. Scott Speed Toyota 189.607 28.480 + 0.410 17. Denny Hamlin Toyota 189.567 28.486 + 0.416 18. Juan Montoya Chevrolet 189.467 28.501 + 0.431 19. Robby Gordon Toyota 189.215 28.539 + 0.469 20. Jamie McMurray Ford 189.168 28.546 + 0.476 21. David Reutimann Toyota 189.129 28.552 + 0.482 22. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 189.096 28.557 + 0.487 23. Greg Biffle Ford 188.917 28.584 + 0.514 24. Bobby Labonte Ford 188.739 28.611 + 0.541 25. Martin Truex Jr Chevrolet 188.679 28.620 + 0.550 26. A.J. Allmendinger Dodge 188.646 28.625 + 0.555 27. David Stremme Dodge 188.574 28.636 + 0.566 28. Carl Edwards Ford 188.554 28.639 + 0.569 29. David Ragan Ford 188.488 28.649 + 0.579 30. Brian Vickers Toyota 188.206 28.692 + 0.622 31. Paul Menard Ford 188.180 28.696 + 0.626 32. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 188.029 28.719 + 0.649 33. Michael Waltrip Toyota 187.983 28.726 + 0.656 34. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 187.885 28.741 + 0.671 35. Joe Nemechek Toyota 187.780 28.757 + 0.687 36. Bill Elliott Ford 187.669 28.774 + 0.704 37. Reed Sorenson Dodge 187.533 28.795 + 0.725 38. Elliott Sadler Dodge 187.376 28.819 + 0.749 39. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 187.117 28.859 + 0.789 40. Max Papis Toyota 186.896 28.893 + 0.823 41. John Andretti Chevrolet 185.707 29.078 + 1.008 42. Casey Mears Chevrolet 184.773 29.225 + 1.155 43. Terry Labonte Toyota Champion's Provisional 
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