Jimmie Johnson was fastest in Friday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and celebrated that fact in style.
"I think we're just happy that we won a pole," Johnson said after he and his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team celebrated with the type of enthusiasm usually reserved for winning a race. "It's not our strong suit. We don't win very many of them."
That's not entirely true.
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Friday's pole was the 35th of the six-time Cup champion's storied career, although it was the first he's ever earned at the 1.058-mile New Hampshire track.
Johnson's top lap in Round 3 was impressive at 133.971 miles per hour.
Starting alongside Johnson on the outside of Row 1 in Sunday's race will be Kyle Busch, with the other top five qualifiers being Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin.
Rounding out the top 12 fastest qualifers were, in order, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, AJ Allmendinger, Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart.
Logano was fastest in Round 1, followed by Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Harvick. Among those who did not make it out of the opening round were Ryan Newman and Danica Patrick.
There was some drama in Round 2 when Martin Truex Jr. knocked out Carl Edwards by the slimmest of margins as the clock ran out on the round.
Edwards said he took full blame for failure to advance to the final round in his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
"I messed up between (Turns 1) and 2. That was all on me," Edwards said. "We still have a fast car, though, and hopefully we can get to Victory Lane on Sunday."
That relegated Edwards to the 13th starting position and gave Truex a shot at the pole in the final five-minute qualifying round.
But no one came close to touching Johnson in that final round after he laid down his smoking fast lap to claim his first pole of the season and his first since Phoenix in the next-to-last race of 2015.
Johnson said the pole-winning effort was especially welcome after a strange incident during a mock qualifying run in Friday practice -- and also because he has crashed out of his last two races, finishing 35th in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona and 32nd in the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway. He has, in fact, dropped from second in points to ninth since winning his second race of the season way back in March.
"We have had a lot of tough races," said Johnson, who also won earlier this season at Atlanta. "Qualifying has been so-so. I'm not the best at qualifying. ... This is just a good day all in all and certainly something this Lowe's team needed after the tough couple of months."
Check out Sunday's row-by-row starting lineup as set by Friday's qualifying below.