FONTANA, Calif. (AP) — Aiming to build some momentum heading into NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, Jimmie Johnson got off to a good start Friday, winning the pole at Auto Club Speedway.

The two-time reigning Cup champion was easily the fastest driver on the 2-mile oval in qualifying for Sunday's Pepsi 500, turning a fast lap of 180.397 mph.

"I'm really very proud of that lap," said Johnson, the defending race winner.

For much of the session, it appeared that the front row would be all Hendrick Motorsports, with Jeff Gordon sitting in the second spot with a lap of 179.565, but A.J. Allmendinger, one of nine drivers who had to qualify on speed, elbowed his way between the teammates with a lap of 179.659.

Kasey Kahne was fourth at 179.158, followed by Gillett Evernham Motorsports teammates Patrick Carpentier at 178.860 and Elliott Sadler at 178.492. Rounding out the top 10 were Martin Truex Jr. at 178.434, Dave Blaney at 178.381, Kurt Busch at 178.16