Jimmie Johnson won the pole for Sunday’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway, posting a top speed of 188.890 mph in the final round of qualifying Friday night.
It is his 36th career pole and his first since the July 2016 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (95 starts between poles).
Johnson will be joined on the front row by fellow Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron (188.416 mph).
Johnson swept all three rounds of qualifying. It’s the 12th time a driver has swept all three rounds and the second time in 2019.
“It’s been a long couple of years and we still have a long ways to go,” Johnson told Fox Sports 1. “Certainly race day is much more important than Friday. But we’re working so hard. I think we’re a bit guilty of trying too hard and maybe stepping outside of our comfort zone at times and putting setups in the car that just aren’t quite proven yet.”
Suarez qualified fourth despite electing to make a lap by himself early in the final round, avoiding the draft of multiple cars.
Clint Bowyer qualified 25th, failing to advance to the second round. He was the lead car in a group that went out for a late second run. Afterward Bowyer expressed frustration over being impeded on pit road by Ryan Newman.
Earlier this week NASCAR announced new procedures for qualifying, including that a competitor will have their posted qualifying times disallowed from earlier sessions and start at the rear if they block or impede another vehicle from taking off properly.
“Learn from your mistakes,” Bowyer said when asked how qualifying can be improved. “That’s how you get better. Learn from your mistakes. We already had this failure and here we are doing it again. Come on.”
In Round 1, Alex Bowman got loose and smacked the outside wall in Turn 2. He will go to a backup car.
Erik Jones‘ car failed pre-qualifying inspection twice. His car chief, Blake Harris, was ejected for the rest of the weekend. Jones will be docked 15 minutes Saturday in the final practice session.