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Johnson opens Chase campaign with pole position

"These things are going to happen on the weekends," she shrugged. "We just need to keep finding the good stuff and work on how to make that happen all the time.”

There had been an unusual incident in the garage area ahead of the second practice session on Friday which saw Chase contenders Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski make heavy contact before they were even out on the track. Both drivers said that they had been confused by apparently contradictory hand signal from the NASCAR official in charge of blending the traffic from the team garage areas to the track itself.

"The guy did something different than normal," said Truex of the official who had held up his hand to stop Keselowski, catching out Truex himself who ran into the back of the #2 car. "I was just checking to make sure a car wasn't coming (from the left) and he already hit the brakes and I was like, 'Oh, s**t.'"

Truex took the blame for the mishap that left him with some front end damage to the #56 car. "My bad. Totally my fault. You get in a hurry in and out of the garage, and it's kind of hard to see what the guy is doing, you know?" he said, admitting: "It scared me pretty bad."

Keselowski's car suffered more serious damage to the rear end of his Dodge. While he tried to find Truex in the garage to talk with after the session, a looming Nationwide practice session meant there was no time. In any case, Keselowski felt that his sudden need to jump on the brakes at the behest of the NASCAR official was as much to blame as anything.

"There are more people in the garage than the stands, that's the problem," he said. "You're trying not to run over people and you can't see what's going on ... I couldn't see the damn guy because there are too many people."

After all that commotion, Truex finished 25th in the times in practice 2 after having set the fastest lap in the first session with a time of 29.709s (181.763 mph). Kyle Busch was fastest in the later session with a lap of 29.751s (181.507 mph), just 0.048s faster than Aric Almirola.

Full qualifying and practice times are available.




Related Pictures

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Jimmie Johnson at Atlanta Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, poses with his pole award after he was the fastest driver during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 15, 2012 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images)
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