FORT WORTH, Texas – Jimmie Johnson sped to his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole in nearly three years during qualifying on Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway.
Johnson swept all three knockout rounds en route to his 36th-career Busch Pole Award and first of the year, marking the seventh different pole winner in seven races this season.
He sped to a time of 28.588 seconds (188.890 mph) in the final round with the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet.
The seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion has now won at least one pole in 15 of his 18 full-time seasons, and Friday’s effort was his first pole since July of 2016 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a span of 96 races.
While Johnson’s hat trick was the 12th time that one driver had swept all three rounds of qualifying in the Cup Series, his focus was already on Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500.
“It’s been a long couple of years, and we still have a ways to go, but certainly race day is much more important than Friday,” noted Johnson. “We’re working so hard … and I think we’re a bit guilty of trying too hard and maybe stepping outside of our comfort zone at times and putting setups on the cars that just quite aren’t proven yet. With all that said, we were very aggressive coming here and changed a lot of stuff around on our 1.5-mile program, so being top of the charts is a great start for this Ally team.
“I’m just really proud of this team for keeping the faith and working hard.”
Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron will join him on the front row for Sunday’s race, the second time this season that the organization has locked out the top-two starting spots.
Chase Elliott made it a trio of Hendrick Chevrolets atop the scoring pylon in the final round, followed by Stewart-Haas Racing’s Daniel Suarez, who was the fastest Ford driver and will start fourth.
Austin Dillon completed the top five, followed by Denny Hamlin, Daniel Hemric, Joey Logano, Ty Dillon, Bubba Wallace, Erik Jones and Brad Keselowski among the drivers who made the third and final round.
Ryan Blaney was the first driver who failed to advance to the final round of qualifying, posting a time of 28.927 seconds (186.677 mph) with the No. 12 Menards Ford Mustang. He’ll roll off 13th on Sunday.
Other notables in the mid-field include Paul Menard (14th), Kyle Busch (16th), Martin Truex Jr. (20th), Kyle Larson (22nd) and Kevin Harvick (23rd).
Alex Bowman, who was scheduled to start 24th, will drop to the rear of the field after slapping the outside wall in turn two on his second lap of round one. The damage forced Bowman to a backup car.
Clint Bowyer was eliminated in round one by .026 of a second and will start 25th (29.096/185.593) on Sunday in the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers Ford Mustang.
Bowyer was furious after his run because he appeared to be impeded on pit road by Ryan Newman.
“The lesson was supposed to be learned in California, when we went and made ourselves look like idiots out there,” said Bowyer. “Unfortunately, we’re sitting here again in the same situation … and having to read the rulebook to figure out the regulations they put in place for qualifying trim.
“We’ve been doing this for years and years. This is stupid,” Bowyer added. “Did that look like clogging the middle? I damn near had to back up to go out and make a lap. … This is a fail, an epic failure.”
Also buried in the field is Kurt Busch, who qualified 30th, his lowest starting spot this season.
To view the complete starting lineup, advance to the next page.