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Johnson will start from the pole, Earnhardt third for Sunday's race at Dover

Johnson will start from the pole, Earnhardt third for Sunday's race at Dover

DOVER, Del. – Jimmie Johnson will start from the pole position for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event thanks to a strong showing in practice after Saturday’s qualifying session was rained out at Dover International Speedway. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will join his Hendrick Motorsports teammate in the top three, while Jeff Gordon will line up 21st, and Mark Martin will roll off the grid 25th.

Based on NASCAR’s rules for the 2011 season, speeds from practice are used to set the qualifying order for the Sprint Cup field. When qualifying is rained out, those practice times are used to determine the official starting lineup.

Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, posted the fastest lap during Friday’s first practice session. He toured the one-mile concrete oval in 22.698 seconds at roughly 158.604 mph. Johnson has won two of his six victories at Dover from the pole position and most recently accomplished this feat in September 2010. A six-time race winner at the track, Johnson leads all active drivers in that category and needs one win to tie Richard Petty and Bobby Allison on the all-time wins list there.

In 18 Cup starts at Dover, Johnson has six wins, eight top-five finishes and 12 top-10s.

Earnhardt circled Dover in 22.714 seconds at roughly 158.493 mph during the first practice session on Friday to secure the third-place starting spot. The last time Earnhardt went to Victory Lane at Dover was in September 2001 when he started third. In 21 Cup starts, Earnhardt has one win, four top-five finishes and seven top-10s.

Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, will line up 21st for Sunday’s race at Dover. In 36 Cup starts at the Monster Mile, Gordon has four wins, 14 top-five finishes and 21 top-10s.

Martin will drive the No. 5 Chevrolet when he starts 25th in Sunday’s 400-mile event.  In 49 Cup starts at Dover, Martin has four wins, 22 top-five finishes and 30 top-10s.

Sunday’s 400-lap event will air Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on FOX.