The five-time Dover winner edged out A.J. Allmendinger for the top spot in Sunday's AAA 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway.
In addition to his dominance in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series over the past few years, there’s one thing that has become clear about Jimmie Johnson – he’s not afraid of monsters.
Johnson, who’s won two of the last three races at Dover International Speedway, continued his recent dominance of the Monster Mile by taking the pole for Sunday’s AAA 400.
“I do like the racetrack,” Johnson said. “It’s always been a fun place for me. Practice was in the not-so-fun category, but we made some changes to the car and I was able to get a good lap. To really go into qualifying blind and go off past notes, it’s cool to have that come full-circle. Today was a neat challenge the way it all came out.”
Johnson, whose five wins at Dover are more than any other active driver, turned a lap of 23.116 seconds for an average speed of 155.736 mph. He edged out A.J. Allmendinger’s second-fastest speed of 155.642 mph, depriving Allmendinger of what would have been his second career pole.
“I’d like to have had the pole, but when you’ve got the 48 behind you it’s tough to hold on,” Allmendinger said. “More importantly, I think the confidence that our race team and I are building together is the important thing. I’m really excited about our race car on Sunday.”
Mark Martin qualified third and was very excited about the effort, as Dover has always been one of his favorite tracks. But his excitement was tempered somewhat when NASCAR disallowed his qualifying time due to a violation from one of his shock absorbers. Martin will start Sunday’s race in 42nd position.
Martin Truex, Jr., who was on the pole at Dover in the spring, ran a lap of 155.353 mph and ended up third after Martin’s penalty. Chase leader Denny Hamlin will start fourth, followed by Juan Pablo Montoya in fifth.
Among the rest of the Chase drivers: Greg Biffle qualified sixth, Kurt Busch 8th, Carl Edwards 10th, Kyle Busch 11th, Matt Kenseth 14th, Jeff Gordon 15th, Clint Bowyer 24th, Tony Stewart 25th, Jeff Burton 27th, and Kevin Harvick 33rd.
NASCAR Nationwide Series final practice
Carl Edwards had a pretty solid Friday at Dover International Speedway as far as practice was concerned. Shortly after running second-fastest in the first NASCAR Sprint Cup practice, Edwards turned the fastest lap in final practice for Saturday’s 200-mile NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
Edwards circled the Monster Mile in 23.874 seconds for an average speed of 150.782 mph. He was eight-tenths of a second ahead of Kyle Busch, who qualified second at 150.175 mph.
The two drivers are no strangers to the front of the pack at Dover. Busch won the spring event and has been dominant at the track in all series in recent years – he’s taken the pole in three of the last four Nationwide races at Dover heading into this weekend, making him the only driver to ever post three Nationwide poles at Dover. Also, he has led more NASCAR Nationwide Series laps at Dover in his career, 661, than any other driver except Harry Gant. But Busch has routinely run into rotten luck on the concrete circuit. Although he’s led six of the 12 races he’s run here, he’s only won two of them.
As for Edwards, he’s won once on the Nationwide circuit at the Monster Mile, and has finished in the top-ten in eight of his 11 events there. He’ll be looking to add his third career pole in Saturday’s qualifying.
Trevor Bayne was third fastest, followed by Jason Leffler and Paul Menard in the top-five. Danica Patrick, who’s making her first career starts at Dover this weekend, was 12th quickest.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice
Ryan Newman posted the carrot that the rest of the field is chasing in Friday’s first practice for the AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway. The 40th running of the fall event at Dover takes place on Sunday.
Newman’s fast lap of 155.898 mph came on the last of his 20 laps, perhaps an indication that the three-time Dover winner figured something out during the session. It would go with his experience – Newman has run in the top 10 in 10 of the 17 races he’s run at the track.
Carl Edwards, another regular in the front of the field at Dover, had another strong practice. His lap was second-fastest at 155.146 mph. Edwards has finished in the top-10 in eight of his 12 starts at Dover, and has won once.
Edwards was followed by Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle in the top five.
Among the Chase leaders, the top six were scattered around the middle of the pack. Leader Denny Hamlin was 11th, Kevin Harvick was 32nd, Kyle Busch 7th, Jeff Gordon 10th, Kurt Busch 15th, and Jimmie Johnson 19th.