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Johnson wins pole for Chase opener

Jimmie Johnson looks at his car in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., Friday, Sept. 14, 2012.
Jimmie Johnson looks at his car in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., Friday, Sept. 14, 2012.
Nam Y. Huh, Associated Press

JOLIET, Ill. — Jimmie Johnson has won the pole for this weekend's Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway — an impressive start for the five-time champion whose streak of Cup titles came to an end last year.

The 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup begins with Sunday's 400-mile race. Johnson's run of five straight championships was snapped last season, when Tony Stewart took the title.

Johnson will start from the front after winning his second pole of the year and 27th of his career. The other 11 drivers in the Chase had mixed results in qualifying. Matt Kenseth was third, one spot ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Kasey Kahne was sixth.

Denny Hamlin, the top seed, was eighth, a spot ahead of Clint Bowyer.

Stewart, on the other hand, qualified 29th.