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Johnson starts 2012 Chase from Chicagoland pole

NASCAR Sprint Cup
Saturday, September 15, 2012

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Jimmie Johnson
For Jimmie Johnson, it was an excellent first step. Johnson will start the 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup from the pole in Sunday's GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

The 23rd of 47 drivers to make a qualifying run in Saturday's time trials, Johnson covered the 1.5-mile distance in 29.530 seconds (182.865 mph) and waited for the rest of the field to try to knock him off the provisional pole.

"Hopefully, it'll get hotter, and things will slow down," Johnson said after his run.

Johnson got his wish. Ultimately, he edged Aric Almirola for the top spot by.037 seconds to claim his second Coors Light pole award of the season, his second in 11 tries at Chicagoland and the 27th of his career.

Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus chose not to make a run during Friday's first practice--hence, their mid-pack position in a qualifying order determined slowest-to-fastest by speed in the first session.

"It just didn't make sense to post a fast lap with the conditions not being right," Johnson explained. "We waited till the second session to work on qualifying, so the track temp would be close. It was a tough call to make, because we didn't use all of our sets of tires to the fullest.

"I'm glad it paid off. It worked out well for us. If we were sitting here 20th, we'd be mad about what we did yesterday, and didn't spend more time on race trim in the second practice... It all worked out so far."

Johnson starts his quest for a sixth title from the top starting spot, with the rest of the Chase drivers spread through the field behind him. Matt Kenseth (182.334 mph) will start behind Johnson from the third position.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (182.070 mph) qualified fourth, with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne (181.971 mph) directly behind him on the grid in sixth. The remaining eight Chase drivers start as follows: Denny Hamlin (eighth), Clint Bowyer (ninth), Brad Keselowski (13th), Martin Truex Jr. (18th), Jeff Gordon (19th), Greg Biffle (22nd), defending Cup champion Tony Stewart (29th) and Kevin Harvick (35th).

Lineup

POS CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR SPEED TIME BEHIND
1 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's / Kobalt Tools 182.865 29.530 Leader
2 43 Aric Almirola Ford Farmland 182.636 29.567 -0.037
3 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Best Buy 182.334 29.616 -0.086
4 88 Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet AMP Energy / National Guard 182.070 29.659 -0.129
5 99 Carl Edwards Ford Fastenal 182.045 29.663 -0.133
6 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet Farmers Insurance 181.971 29.675 -0.145
7 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row / Farm American 181.953 29.678 -0.148
8 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Ground 181.928 29.682 -0.152
9 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 5-hour Energy 181.855 29.694 -0.164
10 20 Joey Logano Toyota Dollar General 181.629 29.731 -0.201
11 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Menards / Libman 181.616 29.733 -0.203
12 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet McDonald's 181.525 29.748 -0.218
13 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 181.507 29.751 -0.221
14 21 Trevor Bayne Ford Good Sam Club / Camping World 181.354 29.776 -0.246
15 55 Mark Martin Toyota LG Partner of the Year / Aaron's 181.257 29.792 -0.262
16 22 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Shell / Pennzoil 181.251 29.793 -0.263
17 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Stanley 181.050 29.826 -0.296
18 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 180.989 29.836 -0.306
19 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 180.874 29.855 -0.325
20 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Gene Haas Foundation Workshops For Warriors 180.729 29.879 -0.349
21 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Wrigley 180.705 29.883 -0.353
22 16 Greg Biffle Ford Scotch Blue 180.523 29.913 -0.383
23 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Bubba Burgers 180.463 29.923 -0.393
24 98 Michael McDowell Ford Phil Parsons Racing 180.276 29.954 -0.424
25 195 Scott Speed Ford Jordan Truck Sales 180.210 29.965 -0.435
26 83 Landon Cassill Toyota Burger King 180.120 29.980 -0.450
27 13 Casey Mears Ford GEICO 180.048 29.992 -0.462
28 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 179.940 30.010 -0.480
29 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Mobil 1 179.892 30.018 -0.488
30 51 Kurt Busch Chevrolet Phoenix Construction 179.671 30.055 -0.525
31 30 David Stremme Toyota Inception Motorsports 179.575 30.071 -0.541
32 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 179.569 30.072 -0.542
33 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota AM / FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves 179.539 30.077 -0.547
34 119 Mike Bliss Toyota Plinker Tactical 179.533 30.078 -0.548
35 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Budweiser Designate a Driver 179.456 30.091 -0.561
36 33 Cole Whitt Chevrolet Little Joes Autos.com 179.438 30.094 -0.564
37 34 David Ragan Ford Distraction.gov 179.265 30.123 -0.593
38 93 Travis Kvapil Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper 178.986 30.170 -0.640
39 32 T.J. Bell+ Ford U.S. Chrome 177.003 30.508 -0.978
40 38 David Gilliland+ Ford 1-800LoanMart 176.702 30.560 -1.030
41 10 Danica Patrick+ Chevrolet GoDaddy.com 176.189 30.649 -1.119
42 36 Dave Blaney+ Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing 176.033 30.676 -1.146
43 26 Josh Wise* Ford MDS Transport 179.164 30.140 -0.610
DNQ 23 Scott Riggs Chevrolet North Texas Pipe 178.271 30.291 -0.761
DNQ 191 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet Plinker Tactical 177.965 30.343 -0.813
DNQ 37 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet Max Q Workforce / Bradley University 177.942 30.347 -0.817
DNQ 249 Jason Leffler Toyota Robinson-Blakeney Racing 177.713 30.386 -0.856

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