JOLIET, Ill. - Jimmie Johnson will start the 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup from the pole in Sunday's GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.
The 23rd of 47 drivers to make a qualifying run in Saturday's time trials, Johnson covered the 1.5-mile distance in 29.530 seconds (182.865 mph) and waited for the rest of the field to try to knock him off the provisional pole.
“Hopefully, it'll get hotter, and things will slow down,” Johnson said after his run. Johnson got his wish.
Ultimately, he edged Aric Almirola for the top spot by.037 seconds to claim his second Coors Light pole award of the season, his second in 11 tries at Chicagoland and the 27th of his career. Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus chose not to make a qualifying run during Friday's first practice--hence, their mid-pack position in a qualifying order determined slowest-to-fastest by speed in the first session.
“It just didn't make sense to post a fast lap with the conditions not being right,” Johnson explained. “We waited till the second session to work on qualifying, so the track temp would be close. It was a tough call to make, because we didn't use all of our sets of tires to the fullest. “I'm glad it paid off. It worked out well for us. If we were sitting here 20th, we'd be mad about what we did yesterday, and didn't spend more time on race trim in the second practice… It all worked out so far.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified fourth but the team opted to change engines and the Hendrick Motorsports driver will start Sunday's race from the rear of the field.