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Jimmie Johnson wins pole in California

NASCAR
Saturday, August 30, 2008

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Jimmie Johnson
With ticket sales soft, hometown hero Jimmie Johnson once again won the pole position at California Speedway for the Pepsi 500.  The only driver to turn a lap at Auto Club Speedway in less than 40 seconds Friday afternoon, Jimmie Johnson survived a strong challenge from A.J. Allmendinger to win the pole for Sunday's Pepsi 500 Sprint Cup race.

The 18th driver to attempt qualifying at the two-mile track, Johnson posted a speed of 180.397 mph, but his position at the head of the field wasn't secure until Allmendinger (179.659 mph), the last of 44 drivers on the track, fell short of Johnson's time by .16 seconds.

Jeff Gordon (179.565 mph) will start third, followed by Kasey Kahne (179.158 mph) and rookie Patrick Carpentier (178.860 mph). Elliott Sadler (178.492 mph) will start sixth as the Dodges of Gillett Evernham Motorsports grabbed positions four through six on the grid.

"All in all, I'm just extremely pleased with the lap and the progress we made throughout the day to make the car faster," said Johnson, the defending race winner and two-time defending Cup champion. "We're happy to start up front. I just hope we can take advantage of that."

Gordon was 21st fastest in Friday's practice session, but his crew gave him a setup more to his liking for the qualifying run.

"I'm shocked, and I'm ecstatic right now," Gordon said. "I missed [Turns] 1 and 2, but 3 and 4 were awesome. That was a great, great lap for us."

Carpentier, whose status with GEM for next season remains uncertain -- particularly after the addition of Reed Sorenson was announced this week -- posted his best qualifying run since winning the pole at New Hampshire in June.

His fifth-place effort came a week after failing to make the race at Bristol, a situation Carpentier attributed to imprudent use of practice time.

"I was discussing the changes [to the car] from this morning with the guys," Carpentier said. "It was a little bit too loose, and last week, we got so loose in qualifying, and it was my fault -- it was both our faults.

"We stopped too early in practice. This time, I tell you, we used it all the way to the end. It was good. We made the perfect changes."

Lineup

POS

CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR SPEED TIME BEHIND
1 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's / Jimmie Johnson Foundation 180.397 39.912 Leader
2 84 A.J. Allmendinger Toyota Red Bull 179.659 40.076 -0.164
3 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Pepsi / DuPont 179.565 40.097 -0.185
4 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 179.158 40.188 -0.276
5 10 Patrick Carpentier* Dodge Sears Auto Center / Valvoline 178.860 40.255 -0.343
6 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge McDonald's 178.492 40.338 -0.426
7 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 178.434 40.351 -0.439
8 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar 178.381 40.363 -0.451
9 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 178.165 40.412 -0.500
10 8 Aric Almirola Chevrolet U.S. Army 178.134 40.419 -0.507
11 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 178.125 40.421 -0.509
12 44 David Reutimann Toyota UPS Store / Toys for Tots Literacy Program 178.015 40.446 -0.534
13 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal 178.006 40.448 -0.536
14 20 Tony Stewart Toyota Subway / Home Depot 177.857 40.482 -0.570
15 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 177.747 40.507 -0.595
16 5 Casey Mears Chevrolet Cheez-It / CARQUEST 177.615 40.537 -0.625
17 12 Ryan Newman Dodge Kodak 177.488 40.566 -0.654
18 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet AMP Energy / National Guard 177.454 40.574 -0.662
19 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 177.392 40.588 -0.676
20 78 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet Furniture Row / DenverMattress.com 177.187 40.635 -0.723
21 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Ground 177.183 40.636 -0.724
22 6 David Ragan Ford AAA Insurance 177.130 40.648 -0.736
23 42 Juan Montoya Dodge Texaco / Havoline 176.982 40.682 -0.770
24 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Cheerios / Betty Crocker 176.939 40.692 -0.780
25 01 Regan Smith* Chevrolet DEI / Principal Financial Group 176.917 40.697 -0.785
26 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac 176.791 40.726 -0.814
27 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet AT&T Mobility 176.722 40.742 -0.830
28 96 Ken Schrader Toyota DLP HDTV 176.397 40.817 -0.905
29 15 Paul Menard Chevrolet Johns Manville / Menards 176.393 40.818 -0.906
30 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA AUTO PARTS 176.337 40.831 -0.919
31 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 176.302 40.839 -0.927
32 77 Sam Hornish Jr.* Dodge Penske Truck Rental 175.983 40.913 -1.001
33 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 175.880 40.937 -1.025
34 28 Travis Kvapil Ford Hitachi "Inspire the Next" 175.764 40.964 -1.052
35 00 Mike Skinner Toyota Affliction "Day of Reckoning" 175.571 41.009 -1.097
36 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Monster Energy 175.426 41.043 -1.131
37 17 Matt Kenseth Ford R+L Carriers 175.357 41.059 -1.147
38 45 Kyle Petty Dodge Wells Fargo 175.357 41.059 -1.147
39 66 Scott Riggs Chevrolet State Water Heaters 175.264 41.081 -1.169
40 21 Marcos Ambrose Ford Little Debbie 175.187 41.099 -1.187
41 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target 175.029 41.136 -1.224
42 38 David Gilliland+ Ford CitiFinancial 173.273 41.553 -1.641
43 08 Johnny Sauter Dodge FUBAR All Natural Drink 174.617 41.233 -1.321

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