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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)
Brendan Gaughan, driver of the #62 South Point Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NSACAR Nationwide Series VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway on September 20, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Andy Lyons/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brendan Gaughan, driver of the #62 South Point Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway on September 20, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brendan Gaughan, driver of the #62 South Point Chevrolet, celebrates with his crew after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway on September 20, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Andy Lyons/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ty Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying first for the NASCAR Nationwide Series VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS qualified for eleventh position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Earnhardt, Jr. is in the Chase which continues with the Challenger 16 for this and next week`s race. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS qualified for sixth position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Johnson is in the Chase which continues with the Challenger 16 for this and next week`s race. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Designate A Driver Chevrolet SS qualified for third position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Harvick is in the Chase which continues with the Challenger 16 for this and next week`s race. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Belkin/Wemo Chevrolet SS qualified for second position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, celebrates setting the pole position during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, speaks at a press conference following practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, smiles at Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Designate a Driver Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, prepares for practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, leads the field after a restart during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

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