Johnson takes pole, sets new record at Kansas

Johnson takes pole, sets new record at Kansas

Jimmy Johnson obliterated the Kansas Speedway lap record on Friday, easily winning the pole for Sunday's Banquet 400 with a fast lap of 180.373 miles per hour. Johnson improved on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s record lap of 177.924 from one year ago. It...

Jimmy Johnson obliterated the Kansas Speedway lap record on Friday, easily winning the pole for Sunday's Banquet 400 with a fast lap of 180.373 miles per hour.

Johnson improved on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s record lap of 177.924 from one year ago. It was Johnson's second pole this year, following Pocono in June, and he will be looking for his fourth win of the season.

Pole winner Jimmie Johnson.
Photo by Thomas Chemris.
"If you're gonna do it you might as well do it big," Johnson said after climbing out of his #48 Lowe's Chevrolet. "This whole race team is an amazing race team. Everything's clicking -- we're doing great. The car was a little nervous coming to the green (into turn three). I lost just a touch there, but it was an awesome lap."

Johnson started second and ran in the top three for much of last year's race before dropping a lap down with a flat tire. He finished 10th and returns to Kansas to settle some unfinished business.

"I'm very proud of all the hard work that has gone into this," Johnson said. "Just like every single week, it's a team effort and today we got on the pole."

Mike Skinner will start beside Johnson on the front row after running a lap of 179.647 mph. Its Skinner's highest starting position since starting on the pole at Richmond in September.

"That's all I had," Skinner said. "I though about trying another (lap), but I knew that Jimmy was going to be hard to beat."

Johnson's teammate and owner Jeff Gordon has won both Winston Cup events since Kansas Speedway opened in 2001 and will start seventh on Sunday.

"We have a good solid effort and a great car," said Gordon. "We picked up a little bit from practice. I got through Turns 1 and 2 pretty good but I just missed a little bit in 3 and 4. We tried to free the car up a little bit and it helped, but we probably could have gone a little bit more."

Points leader Matt Kenseth was forced to run his back-up car after a crash in practice earlier in the day. He was 1/10th of a second off the pace and used a provisional to make the field.

"It just got away from me," said Kenseth, who had an engine failure and suffered his first DNF of the season last week at Talladega. "I think we'll be able to rebound from it. We've got a great car for a backup and I'm sure we'll get it running good."

Earnhardt (third), Bobby Labonte (fourth) and Rusty Wallace (fifth) rounded out the top-5 on Friday.

"It was a good run," said Wallace, who has top-5 finishes in both Kansas races and is looking for his first win in more than two years. "The car's been quick all through practice. We tested here a couple of weeks ago and learned a lot of things. We'll take that (lap)."

Jamie McMurray qualified his Havoline Dodge 15th and the Joplin, Missouri native will make his first Winston Cup start at his home-state track.

"We'll have a shot to win Kansas," said McMurray, who will also run the Busch series race on Saturday. "We're taking a car that has run extremely well this season."

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Rusty Wallace , Mike Skinner , Jimmie Johnson , Jamie McMurray