Tuesday, September 28, 2021

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Jimmie Johnson wins pole for Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway

Jimmie Johnson continued his dominance at Martinsville Speedway by winning the Coors Light Pole Award for the Tums Fast Relief 500. Johnson would run a lap of 19.402 seconds to win the pole, 0.013 seconds ahead of Brian Vickers. It marks the third pole for the driver of the No. 48 Lowes Chevrolet at the paperclip.

“I’m really happy about is my qualifying average here the last two or three attempts that we have had if not maybe four or five attempts has been pretty low or pretty high I guess I’ve been low in the field,” he said.

Johnson says he’s glad to be starting on pole as track position is important on such a tight track.

“We have been lucky in years past to get away with I think in the spring I qualified 22nd and we still fortunately got a decent pit stall where guys around us we were ahead of all day long and I can get in the pit right and get pointed out,” he said. “You take a lot more risk starting back there on the track and on pit road. Very pleased about the effort, very fast race car and we will hopefully be competitive come Sunday which I feel really good about too.”

Kyle Busch would qualify third, followed by Jeff Burton and Denny Hamlin.

“That was a good lap for us,” he said. “I wish I had got a little more out of it, but anytime you can beat your time in practice then you’ve done better and that’s good. The guys gave me a great car. I think the M&M’s Halloween Camry is pretty good this weekend. Looking forward to the race here Sunday. It’s always a good day when you can qualify here in the top-five or top-six.”

Matt Kenseth was sixth, followed by Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard and Aric Almirola. Seven-time Martinsville Speedway winner Jeff Gordon qualified 11th.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., in his first race from back from his concussion, qualified 20th.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Points Leader Brad Keselowski qualified 32nd at a track where he has zero top fives and two top 10s in five starts. Keselowski currently leads Johnson by seven points going into the weekend.

“I’m glad to be here in Martinsville and feeling the season wind down and like the stretch that we’ve been on,” he said. “Certainly would like to qualify better and that’s at the forefront of my mind but I’d much rather race towards the front rather than qualify towards the front if I had to pick between the two. I feel like we’ll be capable of pulling that off once the race gets started. Just ready to keep going, you know, feeling the season wind down and really feel good about our opportunities in front of us.”

Johnson is not counting Keselowski out, saying he can still score a good finish. He just needs to go right at the start of the race.

“Everybody around you has that same mentality too so it can be pretty cut throat back there,” Johnson said after qualifying. “The priority is to get going. You have got to get up into the 20’s and get a buffer of cars between you and the leader so that things can kind of spread out and get into a rhythm.”

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