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Johnson captures pole

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 07:21 PM
SPARTA, Ky. -

Jimmie Johnson thought somebody had traded paint with his motorhome.

Nope, that was just the wind.

The five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion took advantage of those gusts to grab the pole, edging defending champion Kyle Busch for the top spot at Kentucky Speedway on Friday night.

But first Johnson had a scary moment.

"I was sitting in my motorhome, watching qualifying on television and the bus started shaking real bad," he said. "TV was a little behind and they weren't talking about the winds, so for a minute I thought somebody backed into us."

He soon found out that it wasn't an errant driver, but rather the powerful wind that briefly suspended qualifying.

"I opened the door to look out, and when I did the wind almost took the door off of the hinges," he said. "I said, 'OK, I see what's going on now.' "

It was Johnson's first pole-winning run since September 2010 at Dover.

"I've had a lot of seconds, and there is nothing more frustrating than a close second in qualifying," he said after posting a top speed of 181.818 mph and a lap time of 29.700 seconds. "But today went really well and I think we've got a good race car in race trim as well."

The freakish windstorm — only a few spatters of rain fell from a slate-gray sky — only put the brakes on qualifying for a short time. But when the cars returned, the temperature on the track had plummeted from around 140 degrees.

Busch, the last car on the track, just missed the pole at 181.421 mph.

Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick made up the second row, with Ryan Newman and Clint Bowyer making up Row 3.

NATIONWIDE: Polesitter Austin Dillon led most of the final 113 laps to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kentucky Speedway.

It was the first Nationwide victory for Dillon, a rookie who captured the Truck Series title a year ago.

Sprint Cup driver Kurt Busch was second, 9.828 seconds back. Third was another Cup driver and the No. 2 qualifier, Kevin Harvick, followed by Michael Annett and Justin Allgaier.

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