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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 poll, 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."
Johnson used much cooler temperatures following the brief windstorm to win the pole for Saturday night's Quaker State 400.
Qualifying was halted for about 20 minutes as the storm blew through the area, tearing down tents and blowing debris on the track. When it was over, temperatures outside had dropped from 100 to 79 degrees.
Johnson's lap at 181.818 mph was good enough to hold off Busch (181.421 mph), who won this race a year ago. The pole is Johnson's first of the season and first since September 2010 at Dover, Del.
"It's amazing with the 30- to 40-degree drop that we had how much more grip there was in the track," said Johnson, who is fourth in the Sprint Cup standings so far this season. "But when it comes to qualifying, you just have to lay it on the line and hope it works."
Denny Hamlin qualified third, Kevin Harvick fourth and Ryan Newman fifth. Series points leader Matt Kenseth will line up 20th.
Quaker State 400
At Sparta, Ky.
Saturday, 5:30 p.m. TV • TNT