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Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, qualified 11th Saturday for the AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Johnson turned a lap of 22.772 seconds at 158.089 mph on the 1-mile concrete oval in time trials.
“It was definitely tricky; these cooler temperatures change things,” said Johnson, a seven-time Dover winner. “It’s tough to really count on that first lap and know that the grip is going to be there, but you have to commit to it. I had a close eye on the No. 2 car and the fact that he kind of rolled in that first lap and thought that might help him out. He just ended up second there, so I stuck to my plan and tried to run one hard one. (Turns) Three and four were a bit exciting, and I knew I left some time on the table, so I had to run a second. I got a respectful lap out of it.”
Denny Hamlin captured his 12th career Sprint Cup pole, his third of the season and his first at Dover by posting a lap of 22.599 seconds at 159.299 mph.
Clint Bowyer will start on the outside of row one after turning a lap of 22.604 seconds at 159.264 mph. Martin Truex Jr. was third (22.613 seconds at 159.200 mph) while Sam Hornish Jr. (22.676 seconds at 158.758 mph) and Kyle Busch (22.689 seconds at 158.667 mph) round out the top-five.
Forty-eight drivers attempted to qualify for the AAA 400. The drivers not making the cut in the 43-car field were Kelly Bires, Cole Whitt, Jason Leffler, David Stremme and Mike Bliss.
Toyota took the top spot among manufacturers via Hamlin’s pole run. Dodge was next-best at the hands of Hornish. Ford was the third-fastest make thanks to sixth-quick Greg Biffle (22.707 seconds at 158.541 mph), while Jeff Gordon carried the flag for Chevrolet with the seventh-quickest lap (22.721 seconds at 158.444 mph).
The AAA 400 gets underway at 2 p.m. EDT Sunday, with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with a pre-race show at 1 p.m.