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Jimmie Johnson wins pole for Daytona 500

NASCAR
Sunday, February 10, 2008

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Jimmie Johnson
Hendrick Motorsports driver and defending series champion Jimmie Johnson won the pole for the Daytona 500 with a lap of 187.075 mph. Yet his performance was overshadowed by that of Michael Waltrip, a driver whose team is outside the top 35 in owners points and who, just hours before earning the spot, was in danger of missing the race entirely.

"Last night we had a great race, but I'm really looking forward to what this car can do in the 500," said Johnson, who finished second in the Budweiser Shootout on Saturday in a car that was used at Martinsville Speedway but had to be called into service as a backup at Daytona.

Waltrip went out late in Sunday's Daytona 500 qualifying session and posted a lap of 186.734 mph. He then watched as a handful of drivers go out and try to challenge his time, but only Johnson surpassed him.

Michael Waltrip
"This is a step in the right direction," Waltrip said.

“I did not expect to sit on the front row.  I knew we would have a chance, but what I hoped, and this was all I was bold enough to hope, was that we could be the fastest car with a star beside it (required to qualify on time).  That’s the case and we’ve got another car that’s one of the fastest, so it’s a very, very successful day for our team.  There’s much relief for everybody.  There were questions over the summer whether we would even make it to the end of last year and we not only start 2008 with a solid team -- we’re a lot better team than we’ve ever been before.  We expect to perform week-in and week-out and testing has shown us that we’re fast.  It’s nice for the whole world to get to see it now.”

The rest of the field will be sorted out after the qualifying races are run Thursday. For now, only the top 35 in owners points and three team's outside that group - Waltrip, Furniture Row Racing's Joe Nemechek and MWR's David Reutimann are locked into the field.

Behind them are a group of drivers that would be most comfortable racing their way in by virtue of the qualifying races, but if they failed to do so, still might get into the race based on their qualifying speed. No Fear Racing's Boris Said, Gillett Evernham Motorsports Patrick Carpentier, Red Bull Racing's Brian Vickers and Bill Davis Racing's Jacques Villeneuve are in this group.

Eight others will need to race their way in based on speed or go home: RBR's AJ Allmendinger, Furniture Row Racing's Kenny Wallace, Front Row Motorsports' Eric McClure, BAM Racing's Ken Schrader, Front Row Motorsports' John Andretti, Phoenix Racing's Sterling Marlin, Ski Motorsports Stanton Barrett and E&M Motorsports Carl Long.

Then there are three past champions. Penske Racing's Kurt Busch is locked into the field as the most recent past champion, but if he makes the race by virtue of finish or speed, then MWR's Dale Jarrett can take the provisional. If both of those drivers are in, it would fall to Wood Brothers Racing's Bill Elliott. Both Jarrett and Elliott must race their way in or use that provisional or they will not make the race.

Qualifying Results

POS

CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR SPEED TIME BEHIND
1 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 187.075 48.109 Leader
2 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA AUTO PARTS 186.734 48.197 -0.088
3 78 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet Furniture Row Racing 186.498 48.258 -0.149
4 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 186.463 48.267 -0.158
5 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar 186.120 48.356 -0.247
6 5 Casey Mears Chevrolet Kellogg's / CARQUEST 186.054 48.373 -0.264
7 28 Travis Kvapil Ford K&N Filters 185.958 48.398 -0.289
8 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express 185.947 48.401 -0.292
9 160 Boris Said Ford 7-Eleven Slurpee / No Fear 185.893 48.415 -0.306
10 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 185.858 48.424 -0.315
11 10 Patrick Carpentier Dodge Valvoline 185.766 48.448 -0.339
12 20 Tony Stewart Toyota The Home Depot 185.651 48.478 -0.369
13 6 David Ragan Ford AAA 185.594 48.493 -0.384
14 17 Matt Kenseth Ford DEWALT 185.517 48.513 -0.404
15 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet AMP Energy / National Guard 185.479 48.523 -0.414
16 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 185.475 48.524 -0.415
17 27 Jacques Villeneuve Toyota Bill Davis Racing 185.452 48.530 -0.421
18 8 Mark Martin Chevrolet U.S. Army 185.429 48.536 -0.427
19 84 A.J. Allmendinger Toyota Red Bull 185.422 48.538 -0.429
20 38 David Gilliland Ford FreeCreditReport.com 185.410 48.541 -0.432
21 44 Dale Jarrett Toyota UPS 185.345 48.558 -0.449
22 66 Scott Riggs Chevrolet State Water Heaters 185.193 48.598 -0.489
23 12 Ryan Newman Dodge ALLTEL 185.143 48.611 -0.502
24 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 185.071 48.630 -0.521
25 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal Cask No. 16 185.010 48.646 -0.537
26 01 Regan Smith Chevrolet Principal Financial Group 184.964 48.658 -0.549
27 187 Kenny Wallace Chevrolet Furniture Row/ DenverMattress.com 184.953 48.661 -0.552
28 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Jim Beam 184.850 48.688 -0.579
29 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 184.828 48.694 -0.585
30 137 Eric McClure Chevrolet Hefty 184.828 48.694 -0.585
31 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 184.809 48.699 -0.590
32 70 Jeremy Mayfield Chevrolet Junior Johnson's Midnight Moon 184.612 48.751 -0.642
33 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 184.589 48.757 -0.648
34 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 184.540 48.770 -0.661
35 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Best Buy 184.521 48.775 -0.666
36 99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot 184.487 48.784 -0.675
37 49 Ken Schrader Dodge HealthLife.com 184.483 48.785 -0.676
38 15 Paul Menard Chevrolet PEAK / Menards 184.415 48.803 -0.694
39 40 Dario Franchitti Dodge Dodge Journey 184.351 48.820 -0.711
40 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 184.290 48.836 -0.727
41 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target 184.264 48.843 -0.734
42 42 Juan Montoya Dodge Texaco / Havoline 184.241 48.849 -0.740
43 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 184.226 48.853 -0.744
44 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 184.106 48.885 -0.776
45 21 Bill Elliott Ford Little Debbie 184.090 48.889 -0.780
46 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet AT&T Mobility 183.884 48.944 -0.835
47 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Cheerios / Betty Crocker 183.857 48.951 -0.842
48 34 John Andretti Chevrolet Makoto 183.673 49.000 -0.891
49 45 Kyle Petty Dodge Wells Fargo 183.374 49.080 -0.971
50 109 Sterling Marlin Chevrolet Miccosukee Resort & Gaming 183.326 49.093 -0.984
51 96 J.J. Yeley Toyota DLP HDTV 182.994 49.182 -1.073
52 150 Stanton Barrett Chevrolet NOS Energy Drink / SKI / SBM 182.823 49.228 -1.119
53 08 Carl Long Dodge MILLSTAR Tools / Rhino's Energy Drink

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