August 7, 2009

Johnson wins pole at Watkins Glen

Three-time defending Sprint Cup series champion Jimmie Johnson won his first pole of the year Friday for Sunday's race at Watkins Glen International.

Johnson covered the 2.45-mile, 11-turn road course in 71.340 seconds (123.633 mph). It was his first pole victory since last November and his first ever in 16 tries on a road course.

We did all the right things today, Johnson said. The car could have been a little bit better. For us, it was a little bit adventurous from time to time in qualifying trim, but I guess we had fewer problems than everybody else in putting in really good laps.

Kurt Busch was second-quickest Friday, just .008 seconds behind Johnson.

Denny Hamlin qualified third, four days after his victory at Pocono. Marcos Ambrose and David Stremme rounded out the top five.

Ryan Newman placed sixth, followed by Greg Biffle, defending champion Kyle Busch, road-course specialist Boris Said and Juan Pablo Montoya.

Current points leader Tony Stewart qualified 13th, and four-time Watkins Glen champion Jeff Gordon was a surprising 31st.