FORT WORTH, Tex. — He did it again.
After winning from the pole last Sunday at Martinsville and grabbing the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup lead, Jimmie Johnson started the eighth Chase weekend in exactly the same way.
Speeding around Texas Motor Speedway in 28.261 seconds, Johnson won the pole for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500, edging Greg Biffle (190.382 mph) by .103 seconds.
The Coors Light pole award was Johnson’s first at the 1.5-mile track, his fourth of the season and the 29th of his career. The 20th driver to make a qualifying attempt, Johnson picked up three-quarters of a second from practice earlier in the day.
After making his banzai run, Johnson sat in his car until the 26 drivers who followed him had completed time trials — a “strategy” he employed with success last week at Martinsville.
“No way I’m superstitious,” Johnson quipped after Martin Truex Jr., the 46th driver out, failed to top him. “Race car drivers are never superstitious. I’ve been doing this a long time, and more times often than not, the guy that sets the pace climbs out of the car to a microphone, and then, ‘Oh, just knocked off the pole.’
“I tried this philosophy at Martinsville, and I’m not sure if it worked, but it kind of worked, so I figured I would stay in there the whole time, and it played out again.”
Kyle Busch (190.127 mph) qualified third, followed by Clint Bowyer (190.067 mph) and Truex (189.994 mph). Brad Keselowski, who trails Johnson by two points with three races left, claimed the eighth starting spot, his best effort in time trials in the Chase so far.
“It feels like a pole,” said Keselowski, who had qualified 22nd, 20th, 25th and 32nd in the previous four races. “It may not be a pole, but it feels like a pole to us. Our car has had a ton of speed since we’ve been here, in race trim, but qualifying trim has been our weakness all year.
“So I think that bodes very well for us come Sunday.”
Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet wasn’t up to speed when practice started, but the car improved as the session progressed.
“We didn’t unload like we wanted to, and the track was so fast the first 15 minutes that we missed an opportunity to really post a time,” Johnson said. “But as practice wore on, we improved the car, and the pace slowed up a lot, so we felt like we were in contention.
“But I think it surprised us all a little bit to lay one down like that.”
Note: Stephen Leicht, Kelly Bires and David Stremme failed to make the 43-car field.
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