Johnson, who has seven Cup victories at the track, won his third career pole on the 0.526-mile oval thanks to a record-breaking lap of 98.4 mph Friday.

"I'm really proud of (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) and the racecar he brought and all the work and effort that went into this … car today," said Johnson, who won the last race at Martinsville last October.

"The car was fast right off the truck and I was happy I did my part and backed it up in qualifying."

Johnson, driving for Hendrick Motorsports, barely edged Marcos Ambrose (98.364) for the top spot. Those two drivers as well as Brian Vickers, Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon all broke the track record of 98.083 set by Tony Stewart in 2005.

Rounding out the top 10 were Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman.

Sprint Cup Series points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start 17th.

Danica Patrick, who will become the first woman to race in a Cup event at Martinsville, will start 32nd.

Mark Martin, subbing for the injured Denny Hamlin, had a rough qualifying lap as he will start 35th. Hamlin, who broke a vertebra in a crash March 24 at California, was at the track Friday expected to be here on Sunday.

Stewart, who confronted Logano after Logano blocked him at California, will start 26th.

Newman, who won this race last year, will start 10th. Newman won last year's race after Johnson, Gordon and Clint Bowyer wrecked on the final restart.

Humphrey Smith Racing's Mike Bliss failed to make the field.

The drivers will have two practices Saturday to get ready for the 500-lap event Sunday afternoon.

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