TALLADEGA, Ala. - A light but steady rain Saturday morning forced the cancellation of qualifying for the AMP Energy 500, which put NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader Jimmie Johnson on the pole for the running of Sunday's race at Talladega Superspeedway.
The 43-car field was set based on the current Sprint Cup Series point standings. That means the 12 drivers who made the Chase for the Championship will start in the first six rows.
Johnson will be joined on the front row by Hendrick Motorsports teammate Mark Martin. Fellow teammate Jeff Gordon will be directly behind him in the third position, followed by Tony Stewart in fourth, Juan Pablo Montoya fifth, Kurt Busch sixth, Ryan Newman seventh, Greg Biffle eighth, Denny Hamlin ninth, Carl Edwards 10th, Kasey Kahne 11th and Brian Vickers 12th.
Johnson, who has a 118-point lead over Martin in the standings, said the points-based lineup will make for an exciting start to the race, as drivers try to quickly work their way to the front in order to pick up the five bonus points for leading a lap.
"With all 12 of the Chase drivers there, especially with (Gordon) behind me and (Martin) next to me, everybody is going to be trying hard at the beginning to get a lap led," Johnson said. "(Being on the pole) will give us a chance to try to get those five points right away, which is nice. It would be ideal to stay up front the whole race. That's the best place to be."
The 50-year-old Martin was particularly pleased to be starting on the front row, and said he feels good about his chances of winning at Talladega Superspeedway for the first time in 12 years and the third time in his Cup career.
"This is the most relaxed I've been going into Talladega in the last 10 years," Martin said. "I really feel good. I just feel like this is going to be our lucky day.
"I'm thrilled to be on the front row. It's the kind of honor that you enjoy when you've accumulated the kind of success we have (this season). I'm proud of what we've accomplished, and that puts us on the front row here."
Driver introductions for the AMP Energy 500 are set to begin at 11:30 a.m. CST Sunday, with the green flag set to wave for the start of 188-lap race at approximately noon.
In 2009, Talladega Superspeedway proudly celebrates forty years of the most competitive racing in NASCAR. While the track has seen changes made to the cars that circle its high-banks, the surface that they race on and the grandstands that thousands of fans fill twice a year, one constant remains; Talladega Superspeedway is authentic NASCAR racing at its finest.