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Charlotte qualifying: Johnson, Martin in top 11

 

CONCORD, N.C. (May 27, 2010) – Hendrick Motorsports drivers will sport patriotic paint schemes when they line up inside the top 24 for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Memorial Day Tribute Chevrolet, leads his teammates after earning the fifth starting spot during Thursday’s qualifying session. Johnson won this race from fifth in 2005 when he led 11 laps.

“I was joking with (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) today before I rolled out and I said, ‘All right buddy, make the call. Where do you want me?’ And the bottom always prevails in most cases; well not today,” Johnson said. “I took the bottom and the car was good. Maybe a little too loose. But I got a good lap and I’m certainly really proud of that race car behind me and all the hard work that went into it today.”

Mark Martin, driver of the No. 5 CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, will line up 11th in Sunday’s 600-mile event. The NASCAR veteran has started from the 11th spot three times at the 1.5-mile oval, scoring a third-place finish in 1997.

“It was a fast car and I’m just having a lot of fun,” Martin said. “That’s what it’s all about. We had an early draw there, and we laid a great lap down. I’m just thrilled to death to be here and be working with this No. 5 team, CARQUEST Auto Parts, and all out supporters.”

Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Stars and Stripes Chevrolet, qualified 15th, while Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard “Honoring Our Soldiers”/AMP Energy Chevrolet, will roll off the grid 24th.

“I enjoy running here,” Earnhardt said. “It’s slick tonight, but I’ve come here as a kid and enjoyed watching the races here and enjoyed the atmosphere and environment that this track gives. I haven’t really kept my track record on how it’s treated me. I’ve made a lot of mistakes here and had some pretty good cars and probably should have won a race or two.”

Race coverage will begin Sunday at 5:45 p.m. ET on FOX.

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