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Johnson takes All-Star pole

For Jimmie Johnson to excel at Lowe's Motor Speedway comes as a surprise to exactly no one.

With two solid laps and an error-free pit stop — all part of the qualifying format for Saturday night's Sprint All-Star Race — Johnson put his #48 Lowe's Chevrolet on the pole for the 25th running of the event.

A two-time winner of the annual all-star race and the winner of five NASCAR Sprint Cup points events at the 1.5-mile track, Johnson completed his qualifying run in 2 minutes, 1.416 seconds, more than a half-second faster than Kurt Busch (2:02.187), who will start on the outside of the front row.

Matt Kenseth will start third beside Dale Earnhardt Jr. in fourth. Hendrick Motorsports teammates Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon will take the green flag from the fifth and sixth positions, respectively.

The pole was Johnson's first for the all-star race, which this year features four segments of 50, 20, 20 and 10 laps to decide the winner of the $1,022,975 first prize.

Johnson stressed the importance of track position in a race that features shorter segments, particularly the final ten-lap dash.

“I think with track position as important as it's going to be in the race, to be where we are is a great situation,” said Johnson, who believes the eventual race winner will come from the front two rows on the final restart. “We focused on it hard today, and everybody did their job. So I'm real proud of the team. We worked as a unit today and executed on all fronts. I'm very pleased with that, and I look forward to (Saturday night's race).”

Busch felt the difference between his qualifying time and Johnson's may have come on the entry to pit road.

“I may have messed up a little bit coming into pit road by getting on the brakes a little too early,” he said. “And then once I got to the first timing beacon, I wasn't even in second gear to check my pit road speed. My pit crew did an awesome job in the pits.”

Qualifying for Saturday's Sprint Showdown, the qualifying event for the all-star race was rained out, and the starting positions were allocated according to the draw for qualifying order.

That put Kirk Shelmerdine on the pole and Carl Long on the outside of the front row, but both will drop back to the rear of the field to start the race - Shelmerdine for failing to present his car for inspection and Long for an engine change.

The top two finishers in the showdown, which consists of two 20-lap segments, advance to the all-star race and are joined by the winner of the fan vote — from the remaining drivers — to round out the 21-car field.

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News


Related Pictures

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Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus [Pic credit: Getty for NASCAR]
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, races to a fourth place finish Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, races to his 77th career victory, Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Garry Eller for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 77th career win with a victory lap and checkered flag, Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Garry Eller for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 77th career victory Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Gregg Ellman for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 77th career victory with a wave of the chequered flag Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Garry Eller for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 77th career victory, Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 77th career victory, Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2016 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2016 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s / Superman Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2016 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s / Superman Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2016 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s / Superman Chevrolet, celebrates after taking the chequered flag during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2016 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s / Superman Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2016 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS SS, qualifies for second position Friday, March 18, 2016 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Harvick will be joined on the front row by pole setter Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 American Ethanol Chevrolet SS. (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 American Ethanol Chevrolet SS, captures the pole position Friday, March 18, 2016 for a front row start in Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Dillon will be joined on the front row with Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS who qualified second. (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 American Ethanol Chevrolet SS, with team owner and grandfather Richard Childress after capturing the pole position Friday, March 18, 2016 for a front row start in Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Dillon will be joined on the front row with Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS who qualified second. (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 American Ethanol Chevrolet SS, captures the pole position Friday, March 18, 2016 for a front row start in Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Dillon will be joined on the front row with Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS who qualified second. (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)

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