Press Box

Motorsports

November 21, 2009

Jimmie Johnson's run for his fourth straight Sprint Cup title starts from the pole.

Johnson turned a lap of 173.919 mph on Friday to top qualifying at Homestead-Miami Speedway, a big boost for the Hendrick Motorsports star as he tries to become the first driver in NASCAR history to win four consecutive championships.

"We did an awesome job, and I feel that the start will go smoothly," Johnson said.

The start could be tricky for the unflappable Johnson. Scott Speed qualified second and Marcos Ambrose third, two drivers who haven't spent very much time on the track racing up front and around Johnson.

Johnson won his fourth pole of the season in the No. 48 Chevrolet hours after it was announced he signed a contract extension to drive for Hendrick Motorsports through the 2015 season. He has 23 career poles in 291 Cup races.

•Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick expects Jeff Gordon to drive at least "three or four" more seasons, and Gordon says he has no immediate plans to retire. ... Kasey Kahne is strongly considering leaving Richard Petty Motorsports after the 2010 season. ... Kevin Harvick made a late pass to win the season-ending Trucks Series race in Homestead.

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