Johnson earns pole position for GEICO 400
By Tina Akouris firstname.lastname@example.org September 15, 2012 8:52PM
Updated: November 15, 2012 1:38AM
Jimmie Johnson may have taken the first step in nailing down a sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship when he ran the fastest qualifying time for the GEICO 400 Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet.
Johnson drove 182.865 mph to grab the pole position for Sunday’s first Chase race.
“It’s too early in the Chase to be over the top excited, but qualifying makes the race so much easier,” Johnson said. “Pole qualifying typically isn’t my strong suit. But I was certain that a [Chase driver] was going to win the pole.”
Rounding out the top three are Aric Almirola and Matt Kenseth, respectively.
Almirola pushed Kenseth (182.334) off the pole with a speed of 182.636 mph. But Almirola held onto the top spot for only a short time, when Johnson ran off his top speed two drivers later. This is Almirola’s first start at Chicagoland in a Cup car and his sixth top 10 start this season.
“Our car has been fast right from the time we unloaded,” Almirola said. “I have to figure out how to go fast for 400-500 [miles]. I’d like to say they have given me a car that has stayed consistent.”
A rough ride
Joey Logano had the pole for Saturday’s Dollar General 300, won at Chicagoland in 2009 and led the most laps with 67. But a loose car doomed Logano and he finished ninth. A vibration on lap 106 caused Logano to report, “We’re in trouble.”
“This thing is evil loose,” Logano said over his radio. “There’s no way the track has changed this much.”
A nice past
Sam Hornish Jr. won twice at Chicagoland, but both times in the IndyCar series. Hornish, who finished sixth in the Dollar General 300, won IndyCar races in 2002 and 2003 and won the Indianapolis 500 in 2006. Hornish is fourth in the Nationwide points standings, 57 behind Ricky Stenhouse Jr.