Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson established the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Kentucky Speedway qualifying record by winning the pole position for tomorrow night's Quaker State 400 with a 181.818 mph (29.700 seconds) lap.

The five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion holds the track record because Kyle Busch was awarded the inaugural Quaker State 400 pole award based on practice speed after traditional qualifying was rained out.

Johnson will share tomorrow's front row with Busch, the defending Quaker State 400 champ who turned in his best qualifying effort at 181.421 mph (29.765 seconds). Johnson captured the 26th NSCS pole award of his career and his first since he claimed a victory from the pole at Dover International Speedway on Sept. 26, 2010.

He started last season's Quaker State 400 fifth and placed third.

"It was a very comfortable lap, a very good lap. Qualifying has not been our strong suit the last two years, so we're happy to get this pole today. The conditions were so slick, it took a while to get the feeling I was looking for. We're on the right track now.

"This track has so much character. It would be great to win here at Kentucky. We used to test here a lot back in the day. Turns 3 and 4 have taken quite a few 48 racecars from us, so the run last year was good for me. I came back with a lot of confidence," Johnson said.

Busch became the first driver earn race victories in four different series at Kentucky Speedway when he took last year's Quaker State 400 checkered flag. The 27-year-old wheelman will start tomorrow's race having led 704 of the 1,819 Kentucky Speedway laps he's raced while amassing a total of six top- five and eight top-10 finishes across a combined 10 NSCS, NASCAR Nationwide Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and ARCA Racing Series starts.

"I was certainly hoping for a little bit more there, but we weren't able to achieve what we needed to. We're going into tomorrow night's race with good pit selection and we're starting up front, which is good for us. I typically don't qualify well, but this is a place where we know what we have to do and qualify well," Busch said.

Denny Hamlin qualified third in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 car with a 181.147 mph (29.810 seconds) lap and inaugural Kentucky Speedway NNS 300-mile race winner Kevin Harvick completed the second row with a 180.367 mph (29.939 seconds) circuit in the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing car.

Parking lots open at 7 a.m., tomorrow and gates open at noon. Fans can enjoy a plethora of activities, food, displays and shopping. Bud Light artists LoCash Cowboys will take the Budweiser display stage at 3:30 p.m.

Kroger presents country music superstar Chris Young will perform a prerace concert at 5:15 p.m., on the frontstretch stage and multi-talented Lexington, Ky., Broadway and country music star Laura Bell Bundy will sing the Star Spangled Banner.

Tickets, campsites and daily infield Fan Zone passes for tomorrow's Quaker State 400 can be purchased by logging on to http://www.kentuckyspeedway.com/tickets, calling 859-578-2300 or visiting the Kentucky Speedway corporate offices at 1 Speedway Drive, Sparta, Ky., 41086 just off of Interstate 71 Exit 57 and the newly-expanded, seven-lane Kentucky Highway 35.

Story by Mike Schmaltz

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