Lowe's qualifying: Johnson on pole, four Hendrick drivers in top 10
CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 15, 2009)—Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin will start on the front row for Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, while teammates Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski also notched spots in the top-10.
Johnson circled the 1.5-mile racetrack in 28.070 seconds at roughly 192.376 mph to pick up his third pole position of the season and the third of his career at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The trio of pole positions matches a personal best for Johnson at a Cup track. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet and current points leader also has three poles at Kansas Speedway.
“We came close to backing up our time in practice, and that says a lot,” Johnson said. “I think the track is losing some grip right now, but that’s a fast lap.”
Martin, driver of the No. 5 Pop-Tarts/CARQUEST Chevrolet, secured the outside pole position to pick up his 10th front-row starting spot of the season. The NASCAR veteran enters Saturday’s race ranked second in the championship standings, just 12 points behind Johnson.
“I’m just so thankful,” Martin said. “I feel like I’m one of the luckiest guys around to get a chance to drive (crew chief) Alan Gustafson’s car and work with these guys. Man, they put some great stuff under me. It was so much fun to drive that car today.”
Brad Keselowski, who will finish his limited 2009 Cup schedule with Hendrick Motorsports this weekend, earned the eighth-place starting spot in the No. 25 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet. This is the second straight top-10 start in the No. 25 Chevy for Keselowski, who lined up third at Kansas Speedway on Oct. 4.
Gordon, currently ranked fifth in the standings, will line up ninth in his specially-painted No. 24 DuPont/Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Chevrolet.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, will roll off the grid 39th for the 500-mile race.
Race coverage begins Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on ABC.