Johnson on pole at Martinsville

Jimmie Johnson claimed his third pole of the season on Friday by turning in a 19.402-second lap at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway during qualifying for Sunday’s Tums Fast Relief 500.

“We’ve helped ourselves out dramatically today by qualifying on the pole,” Johnson said. “We’ve got the safest pit stall, and starting with track position is very important. So, stats show one thing, but you’ve still got to go run the race and I feel really good about my Lowe’s Chevrolet and I think we’ll be in strong, championship-form leaving here.”

He’ll be joined on the front row by Brian Vickers who qualified second with a lap time of 19.415 seconds.

Kyle Busch was third, Jeff Burton fourth and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-five in Friday’s qualifying session.

Only five Chase for the Sprint Cup drivers qualified in the top-10. Joining Johnson and Hamlin were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Tony Stewart in seventh and Clint Bowyer in eighth.

Series points leader Brad Keselowski was the slowest among the 12 Chase drivers, qualifying 32nd. Greg Biffle was just two spots better in 30th.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified just inside the top-20 in 20th for his first race back since sitting out two races to recover from a concussion suffered three races ago at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

Forty-five drivers made qualifying attempts. Mike Bliss and J.J. Yeley failed to make the field for Sunday’s race.

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Tags: Jimmie Johnson Martinsville Speedway NASCAR

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