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Jimmie Johnson on the pole for Coca-Cola 600

Drivers not panicking near NASCAR's halfway point

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Jimmie Johnson prepares before practice for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup series Coca-Cola 600 auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., Thursday, May 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

Could Thursday's qualifying session be a sign of another reign of Charlotte Motor Speedway dominance for Jimmie Johnson?

The six-time champion grabbed the pole for Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600, besting Brad Keselowski for the top spot.

Johnson's last Charlotte pole came in the fall race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2009. That was also Johnson's last win at Charlotte, when he led 92 laps en route to his fourth championship.

In 2004 and 2005, Johnson won all four races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, including the 2004 Coca-Cola 600 in which he started first. In all four of those races he had a top-10 starting position.

But since the win in 2009, Johnson has finished outside the top 20 four times. Yeah, that's the statistics of a mortal, but we all know that Johnson has proved to be more than a mortal in grabbing six Sprint Cup Series titles.

Oh, but he's been mortal in 2014, you say? Sure, a win on Sunday would be Johnson's first of the season and virtually guarantee himself a spot in the Chase, but it's not like the No. 48 bunch has struggled through the first 11 races of the year. Johnson has six top 10s and is seventh in the points standings.

Starting behind Johnson and Keselowski in row two are Kasey Kahne and Danica Patrick. It's the second-highest starting spot of Patrick's career and the fastest she's qualified at an intermediate track like Charlotte. In the last points race at Kansas, Patrick finished seventh, the best finish of her Sprint Cup Series career.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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