California Natives Go One, Two, Three In Laughlin Qualifying Day At Auto Club Speedway

Starting Lineup El Cajon native Jimmie Johnson won the Coors Light Pole Award during Laughlin Qualifying Day for the Pepsi 500 Friday evening at Auto Club Speedway. "We went out kind of in the peak of the heat, and there were a few cars that we were worried about," Johnson said. “All in all, I'm just extremely pleased with the lap and the progress we’ve made throughout the day to make the car faster. We’re happy to start up front, and hopefully, we can take advantage of that.” Johnson drove his No. 48 Lowe’s/Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet with a top time of 39.91 seconds at a speed of 180.39 mph, giving him his first pole in 12 races at Auto Club Speedway and 17th pole of his career. A.J. Allmendinger, from Los Gatos, Calif. (No. 84 Red Bull Toyota) posted a career-best start, finishing second in qualifying and marking his sixth top-10 start of 2008. “It’s always tough when you’re in that situation of going home or just trying to make the race because you’re always just a little bit nervous just to try and get a little bit extra out of the car,” Allmendinger said. “I’m happy with it. It’s a good place to start for Sunday.” Vallejo, Calif. native Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) qualified third. Gordon is looking to break his winless streak this year and has the best chance at Auto Club Speedway - he’s led the most laps (525) and is the only driver to have won three Cup races here. Points leader Kyle Busch qualified 11th while Carl Edwards qualified in the middle of the pack with the 26th starting position. Both drivers were put on probation for last week’s on-track bumping incident and insist that their rivalry is purely on-track. “We’re friends, man,” Busch said “I enjoy battling with guys like myself, and Carl is a real battler; off the track, we’re best friends, man. I might text him later, and we might go get some In-N-Out Burger. Oh wait, he doesn’t eat that stuff probably. Maybe we’ll get a salad then.” The Pepsi 500 at the Auto Club Speedway will begin at 5 p.m. Sunday and will finish “under the lights.” Ticket information is available by calling (800) 944-RACE (7223) or for more information, visit at


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