Qualifying: Johnson takes Pocono pole

Jimmie Johnson has been one of the form men of the NASCAR Winston Cup in the last month, and he grabbed his first pole position of the season on Friday for the Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway

Qualifying: Johnson takes Pocono pole

Johnson, who recently won the rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, lapped the 2.5-mile triangular track in 52.741sec (170.645mph), just enough to block Ryan Newman from his fifth pole of the season. Newman had won the previous two poles, at Charlotte and Dover.

Johnson said: "Right now, the peak for the 48 team is coming around, and we're fighting for king of the hill right now."

Both Johnson (Chevrolet) and Newman (Dodge) ran later in the order, with Newman going out last among 45 entrants. Johnson knocked Bobby Labonte (Chevrolet) off the pole with his run. Johnson had to overcome a moment of doubt after an engine problem in practice, which held him to 12th-fastest. The team replaced a valve spring, then worked to replaced their driver's confidence.

"You don't know what weight to put on it," he said. "When I got back on the track, I noticed my shift points were all better than they'd been, so I knew we'd have a top-five run. It's easy to get bummed out and get down, to go into qualifying with the wrong mindset. The guys kept me pumped up."

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