Johnson Home On The Pole

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California native Jimmie Johnson kicked off a successful homecoming weekend by winning the pole Friday for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pepsi 500 at Auto Club Speedway.

Johnson turned a lap of 180.397 mph to earn the top spot for the 25th race of the Sprint Cup Series season.

The defending series champion is hoping for a repeat trip to victory lane in the event as a follow-up to his win in Fontana last season.

"Last year (the win) just started the confidence in our minds that we're ready for the Chase," Johnson said. "So, you're looking at what you need to do to be as good as you can in the Chase and building the confidence around yourself and the team that you can be a contender."

A win at what is considered his home track would also be big in Johnson's attempt to bring momentum into the Chase and a possible third consecutive title.

"It would mean a lot for us to win on a big track like this," he said. "Mile-and-a-half and above tracks and downforce tracks have been kind of our weak spot. Hopefully, we made some gains that will help us this weekend and moving into the Chase."

Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch, fresh off their controversial finish in Bristol a week ago, turned in mediocre qualifying efforts.

Busch will start 11th while Edwards, shooting for his third straight win of the year, had the 26th best lap.

"It's very cool to have our team running so well, to be on top of our game, and it's really fun to have somebody like Kyle that's so fast," Edwards said. "There's been a couple of races where it's like either me or him, and I think that brings out the best in a lot of people.

"If it comes down to just him and I for the championship, that would be fine, but I have a feeling some of these other guys are going to have something to say about that."

AJ Allmendinger continued his resurgence with the Red Bull racing team by claiming a career-best start by taking the outside front row starting spot.

Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne and Patrick Carpentier rounded out the top five.

Elliott Sadler, Martin Truex Jr., Dave Blaney, Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola completed the top ten qualifiers.

Tony Raines was the only driver who failed to qualify for the 250-lap race.

Sunday night's Pepsi 500 is slated for an 8 p.m. (ET) green flag.

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