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Jimmie Johnson In Wheelhouse

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Jimmie Johnson’s finish last week at Talladega Superspeedway vaulted him into the points lead with four races left in NASCAR’s Chase for the Championship and this week he starts on the front row in Martinsville.

Johnson is an eight time winner at the half-mile bullring in Virginia that has traditionally been very good for the No. 48 team. He and Kyle Busch matched speeds in qualifying second fastest on Friday behind new track record holder Denny Hamlin. Via NASCAR’s tie-breaking rule, Johnson gets the nod ahead of Busch who will start third in the lineup.

Speaking of ties, Busch and Kevin Harvick are tied for third in the points standings behind Johnson and Matt Kenseth. Kenseth will start Sunday’s race in 4th and Harvick rolls off 10th. Jeff Gordon is still in contention for the Championship 34 points behind Johnson and will start 9th.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a good run at Talladega last week as well and qualified 12th this week. Earnhardt was fastest in this afternoon’s happy hour final practice session over Clint Bowyer. Bowyer starts 5th tomorrow.

Here is the complete starting lineup.

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