Jimmie Johnson, above, won his first career Cup pole at Auto Club Speedway on Friday, but his strongest challenge came from the last driver in line to qualify. Johnson, who went out 18th at the 2-mile track in Fontana, Calif., posted a 39.912-second run at 180.397 mph. He then had to wait for more than half the field to cycle through only to see fellow Californian AJ Allmendinger, one of the drivers who had to qualify on time, nearly knock him off the top spot. Allmendinger logged a speed of 179.659 mph (40.076 seconds) for his first career front-row start. Jeff Gordon will start third. Gillett Evernham Motorsports teammates Kasey Kahne and Patrick Carpentier round out the top five. A full lineup can be found here.
-- Michele Vincze
Photo: The Associated Press