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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)
Brian Scott. (Picture Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, holds his daughter, Lydia Sunday, November 22, 2015 before final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Johnson and other Jeff Gordon teammates at Hendrick Motorsports wore tribute hats to honor the retiring Chevy driver prior to the start of the race. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
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Former racing driver Mario Andretti, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, and Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton pose during pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
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Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race with a burnout after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race with his team after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane after winning the series championship and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, and Daniel Suarez, driver of the #18 ARRIS Toyota, lead the field on the first lap of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 21, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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