Johnson Claims First Pole At BMS During Sharpie Qualifying
Jimmie Johnson earned his first-ever pole at Bristol Motor Speedway, taking the top spot for Saturday night’s IRWIN Tools Night Race.
It was the 24th career pole for the four-time and defending Sprint Cup points champion, who scored his first Bristol win this past March.
Carl Edwards will start on the outside pole, with Joey Logano, Tony Stewart and Aric Almirola rounding out the top five. Ryan Newman will start sixth, followed by Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya, Martin Truex Jr., and A.J. Allmendinger. Kevin Harvick, who enters the IRWIN Tools Night Race leading the Sprint Cup points, will start 28th.
Johnson feels the qualifying effort has him in good position for a great run tomorrow night.
"Yeah, we definitely have things going right for us so far; a good qualifying effort,” he said. “Race practice went well. We were near the top five on the fastest lap throughout most of practice. It felt like our car was very consistent and we were a bit puzzled on how much the groove has widened out and where we think the ideal line to race is, come race time. We spent a lot of time focused on the bottom of the race track, including qualifying and running our lap. There was a lot of question and concern in my mind. I went on top of the transporter and watched all the guys go and nobody made the bottom work until late when the No. 20 (Joey Logano) went out.
"So that gave me hope but I really couldn't change directions at that point because we'd set the car up to run on the bottom for qualifying and felt like it would be foolish to change things and introduce a different line with the set-up that we had kind of fine-tuned. We did things right there, but it's also the mindset in race trim. Typically the bottom is the place to be and we focused a lot working the bottom in race trim and some up top. But we'll just have to see in the race. I think my car drove easier the higher I went so I don't feel like I'm going to be out to lunch spending so much time being focused on the bottom. But it was an interesting day. This tire was a lot different. It laid down a lot more rubber. It seemed to be a little bit looser at the beginning but we did a good job adjusting to it."
Johnson says being on point is a good thing – but not always.
“The leader you think is in a safe spot, but sometimes he's in the eye of the storm,” he said. “So you just don't know. We'll make sure that we're buttoned-up and organized and ready but still, tomorrow we've got to think on our toes and do our best job to be heads-up during the race."
The IRWIN Tools Night race gets under way at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow. Tickets are still available and may be purchased by calling 423-BRISTOL