Rain washes out Cup qualifying
AP Sports Writer
DOVER, Del. – Jimmie Johnson stopped at a media scrum and snapped a photo of Bobby Allison.
Johnson will zoom in on Allison again when he starts first Sunday at Dover International Speedway. Johnson is one win shy of matching Allison and Richard Petty’s record of seven wins on the Monster Mile.
Johnson has won three of the last four races at Dover, including a sweep in 2009.
The five-time defending Cup champion doesn’t need any additional help going for the checkered flag. But he caught a break when rain wiped out qualifying Saturday and put his No. 48 Chevrolet on the pole.
Johnson starts first in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race because he posted the fastest average practice speeds. This is the first time this season NASCAR had to use the new system that starts drivers based on practice speed, not the points standings.
“I don’t feel like we have a very good handle on it, although things worked good for us this weekend,” Johnson said.
Of course they did. He’s Jimmie Johnson.
AJ Allmendinger will start second after rain hit hard at Dover on Saturday. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is third, Kasey Kahne fourth and Joey Logano fifth.
“I don’t understand,” Allmendinger said, turning toward Johnson with a smile. “The system is the same for you. You’re either fastest, or they used to do it by points, so you started on the pole. Not sure how much different that is for you.”
Allmendinger continued to needle Johnson. After Johnson said he only cared about leading the final lap, not the first one, Allmendinger asked for an early free pass.
“I don’t start up front a lot and I can lead a lap, or two or three, it looks good on my stats,” Allmendinger said. “So are you just going to let me have the start or what?”
“I’m not going to let you have it,” Johnson said, “But go for it.”
Johnson doesn’t give away anything for free, but Allmendinger will do all he can to gobble points and get into the Chase for the championship standings.