Johnson starts Chase with pole at Chicagoland

Starting of the Chase for the Sprint Cup on a good note is ideally what every team wants to pursue their hopes for a championship at NASCAR’s highest level.  It’s no different if you’re going for your first championship, or your sixth.

For five-time champion Jimmie Johnson, his pursuit of the 2012 championship starts by winning the pole for Sunday’s GEICO 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway.

Johnson, who enters the Chase tied for second in the points behind Denny Hamlin, won the pole with a lap averaging 182.865 mph.

“It’s a great start obviously for the weekend,” said Johnson after winning his second pole of the 2012 season. “Track position is so important—pit road is. We did everything right today.

“I’m excited more than anything because yesterday we were fair and needed a little bit more. The adjustments we made to our race car really helped the car, clearly.

“If we can apply those to our race setup, we’ll be just fine.”

By winning the pole, Johnson becomes the only repeat pole sitter in the 12 year history of the Chicagoland Speedway. Johnson’s previous pole at the track came in 2005, which happens to be the track record.

Starting alongside Johnson for Sunday’s race will be Aric Almirola in Richard Petty Motorsports’ No.43.

Following Johnson and Almirola to the green flag tomorrow will be: Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards in the top-five positions.

With the Chase starting up on Sunday, the majority of the eyes watching will be focused on the 12 drivers going after the Sprint Cup championship.

Chase drivers in qualifying: 1- Jimmie Johnson, 3- Matt Kenseth, 4- Dale Earnhardt Jr., 6- Kasey Kahne, 8- Denny Hamlin, 9- Clint Bowyer, 13- Brad Keselowski, 18- Martin Truex Jr, 19- Jeff Gordon, 22- Greg Biffle, 29-Tony Stewart, 35- Kevin Harvick.

47 drives attempted to qualify for the 43-car field that will start the GEICO 400.

Scott Riggs, Reed Sorenson, Jason Leffler, and JJ Yeley all failed to qualify for Sunday’s race.

GEICO 400 Staring Lineup 

1: Jimmie Johnson

2: Aric Almirola

3: Matt Kenseth

4: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

5: Carl Edwards

6: Kasey Kahne

7: Regan Smith

8: Denny Hamlin

9: Clint Bowyer

10: Joey Logano

11: Paul Menard

12: Jamie McMurray

13: Brad Keselowski

14: Trevor Bayne

15: Mark Martin

16: Sam Hornish Jr.

17: Marcos Ambrose

18: Martin Truex Jr.

19: Jeff Gordon

20: Ryan Newman

21: Kyle Busch

22: Greg Biffle

23: Bobby Labonte

24: Michael McDowell

25: Scott Speed

26: Landon Cassill

27: Casey Mears

28: Juan Pablo Montoya

29: Tony Stewart

30: Kurt Busch

31: David Stremme

32: Jeff Burton

33: Joe Nemechek

34: Mike Bliss

35: Kevin Harvick

36: Cole Whitt

37: David Ragan

38: Josh Wise

39: Travis Kvapil

40: TJ Bell

41: David Gilliland

42: Danica Patrick

43: Dave Blaney