Jimmie Johnson sets track record, takes pole at Martinsville

jutter@charlotteobserver.comApril 5, 2013 

— Jimmie Johnson is perfect at Martinsville Speedway – at least the last two times he’s started from the pole.

While Johnson has seven career Sprint Cup Series wins at the track, only three times in 22 starts has he started a race from the pole. He’s won twice from the top starting position, most recently last fall.

He’s in position again this weekend as Johnson used a track-record lap of 98.400 mph on Friday to win the pole for Sunday’s STP 500. Tony Stewart held the previous record (98.083 mph), which he set in 2005.

“It’s good to have that first pit box, it helps to avoid all the chaos,” said Johnson, who was one of six drivers to better Stewart’s previous qualifying record. “I knew we would have a great shot at it today. I just had to do my job and not mess up.”

Marcos Ambrose qualified second, Brian Vickers third, Joey Logano fourth and Kasey Kahne fifth.

Series points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. will line up 17th.

Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter

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