The four-time defending NASCAR champion turned a lap at 123.475 mph in Friday's qualifying to put his Chevrolet on the front row.
"Everybody wants to win here," Johnson said. "We all know how hard I fought this track myself, my own demons, whatever it is that we finally got over in the spring to win here. I would love to go out and win again. If not, just have a really solid race."
Johnson bettered Carl Edwards, who earned the second starting spot with a lap at 122.937 in a Ford.
His hold on the pole was for just a few minutes -- Johnson ran his lap two cars after Edwards' attempt.
"I was on it for 15.54 seconds or however long it took Jimmie to run that thing," Edwards said.
Joey Logano qualified third in a Toyota, and also had a brief time atop the speed chart before Edwards and then Johnson knocked him into the second row.
"When Carl ran his lap, he beat me by just a little bit and I was thinking, 'Oh man, it would stink to get beat by that much,' " Logano said. "But Jimmie ran a really fast lap. I don't think I had that much in me."
Tony Stewart qualified fourth and David Reutimann bounced back from a bout with food poisoning to qualify fifth.
NASCAR had 49 cars vying for 43 starting positions. Drivers not making the race included Dave Blaney, Joe Nemechek, Kevin Lepage, J.J. Yeley, Brian Keselowski and Mike Bliss.
For Johnson, who finally broke through for his first Bristol win in 17 career starts in March, a good run tonight could stop his annual summer slump. With five victories -- enough to ensure him a great seeding spot at the start of the Chase -- he's had the luxury of experimenting a bit over the past month.
It's the same strategy crew chief Chad Knaus has used over the past few seasons, and the team has always turned it up a notch when the championship race begins.
Now, with only one top-10 finish in his past six races, he's looking to get some momentum as the "regular season" winds down.
"Once Chad and I can figure out where we need to work, we seem to do pretty well with it," Johnson said.