SPARTA, Ky. — Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champ Jimmie Johnson overcame blustery wind to capture his first pole in more than a year when he edged Kyle Busch for the top spot Friday at Kentucky Speedway.
A freakish storm with high wind that lifted tents and littered the area with debris caused qualifying to be suspended. The cars returned to the track shortly – after the temperature dropped 20 degrees.
Johnson, who had not won a pole since September 2010 at Dover, had a top speed of 181.818 mph and a lap time of 29.700. He edged defending champion Busch, who went 181.421 and was just 0.065 seconds slower.
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.
“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.’ ”
NATIONWIDE SERIES: Pole-sitter Austin Dillon, driving the legendary No. 3 car, led most of the final 113 laps to win the Nationwide Series race at Kentucky Speedway.
The No. 3 was driven to fame by Dale Earnhardt before his death on the track at the 2001 Daytona 500. Richard Childress was the team owner for Earnhardt, and is also the grandfather and team owner for Dillon.
As Dillon was clinching the win, his grandfather said over the radio, “Dale would have been proud of that.”
It was the first Nationwide victory for Dillon.