Johnson makes Newman eat his words
CONCORD, N.C. -- Jimmie Johnson proved that Lowe's Motor Speedway is still his house.
As the 47th of 50 drivers scheduled to qualify for Friday's Busch Series Dollar General 300, Johnson knocked fellow NASCAR star Ryan Newman off the pole with a lap of 187.735 miles per hour.
It was the second pole in eight starts on the Busch circuit this season for Johnson, who set a record by winning each of the last three Nextel Cup events here.
Newman, who gave Johnson a note saying, "This is my house tonight," had been the only driver to turn in a lap of under 29 seconds before Johnson circled the 1.5-mile oval in 28.764 seconds in a Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
"Pretty creative on his part," Johnson said of Newman's note. "It always works out that way here that I get a late draw and him an early one."
Seeking a single-season record with a fifth straight Busch Series victory, Newman will settle for starting on the outside of the front row in a Dodge Charger. He also qualified second here Thursday for Saturday's Nextel Cup series event.
Kyle Busch, who won the spring event here and became the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' youngest winner with a checkered flag on this track in May, qualified third in a Chevrolet.
The Dodges of rookie Reed Sorenson, who is third in the points standings, and Regan Smith rounded out the top five. Eight of the last 11 Busch Series winners here have started within the first two rows.
Newman, who leads the Cup Series this season with six poles, including the spring race here, has won his last four starts on this circuit to tie the single-season record set by Sam Ard in 1983. Ard's four straight wins came in as many races while Newman's have come over a seven-race span.
A fifth straight win would tie him with Dale Earnhardt Jr., who won five in a row from 2002-04. Earnhardt, who won back-to-back Busch Series titles beginning in 1998, will start from the rear of the field in a Chevrolet with a champion's provision.
Martin Truex Jr., who is seeking to be the next back-to-back champion on this circuit, will start 14th in a Chevrolet. Truex holds a 49-point lead over Clint Bowyer, who will start ninth in another Chevrolet.
Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Adrian Fernandez, Kertus Davis and Ashton Lewis all spun into the wall entering turn 1. Davis failed to qualify for the race.
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