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Windstorm helps Johnson rediscover pole form

It's been a long time since Jimmie Johnson started from pole position for a Sprint Cup race, but he'll have that opportunity at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday night.
Jimmie Johnson claimed his first pole position since September 2010, when he pipped Kyle Busch to the top spot by 0.065s in qualifying at Kentucky Speedway late on Friday afternoon.

"Qualifying has not been our strong suit in the last couple of years," said Johnson. "I'm very happy to get this pole today. My Chevy's bad fast, and I'm looking forward to going racing."

Johnson's timed lap on the 1.5-mile oval was 29.700s (181.818mph), which was just good enough to put him on the top spot for the start of the Quaker State 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Saturday evening.

The last time that Johnson started on pole was 60 races ago at Dover in 2010, even though he's started in the top ten no less than 10 of the 16 races before now in 2012.

"We have been in a dry spell in qualifying, we have had a lot of seconds and a lot of very fast race cars," Johnson admitted. "I have always been much better at racing and I have always like to have a rabbit or somebody out there to chase and today you know, things went well in race trim and in qualifying trim and I got a great lap there in qualifying."

Qualifying was interrupted for 17 minutes by violent winds sweeping through the area which sent everyone scurrying for cover and many of the temporary structures around the speedway were violently knocked around. At least one pit lane worker was reported as having been sent to hospital for minor injuries sustained in the sudden chaos.

Once the winds subsided again it turned out that they had cooled the track considerably, which had added grip for the remaining 25 drivers still to make their laps - which included Johnson and Busch, and also Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick who will start from the second row.

"The track is much more friendly in cooler temperatures," admitted Johnson. "It's amazing with the 30-40 degree drop that we had and how much more grip there was in the track."

The fastest man before the windstorm had been Scott Speed, and the first man out after the hiatus - Tony Stewart - promptly beat his laptime by over two tenths. Speed ended up almost nine tenths off pole time by the end, the fastest of the non-guaranteed drivers in 24th position on the grid. JJ Yeley and Mike Skinner were the two cars that failed to qualify for the race on speed.




Related Pictures

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Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Dover White Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway on June 29, 2012, in Sparta, Ky. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Dover White Chevrolet, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway on June 29, 2012, in Sparta, Ky. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
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Cars race after a restart lead by Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Napa Auto Parts Chevrolet (L), Ryan Blaney, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Cartwheel by Target Chevrolet (R) during the EnjoyIllinois.com 300 race at Chicagoland Speedway on July 19, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Crew chief Chad Knaus inspects the car of Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, after a crash during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, lead the field at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, crashes in the early part of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski in the garage at Martinsville Speedway (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, and Erik Jones, driver of the #51 ToyotaCare Toyota, lead the field during a restart of the American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway on July 11, 2014 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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