NASCAR Darlington 2013 qualifying: Jimmie Johnson trying to repeat at tough track

Tyler Barrick

Starting in front is of utmost importance at Darlington, something Jimmie Johnson understands after winning last year's race from the outside pole position, his third victory at the track.

The course at Darlington has a tendency for spills, so starting ahead of the pack is a definite advantage for Sprint Cup racers as they go through qualification Friday for the Bojangles Southern 500.

With an odd track configuration featuring two differently-banked sets of turns requiring different strategies, Darlington has earned its moniker as "The Track Too Tough To Tame." Racers will find themselves up against the walls, and each of the last two Sprint Cup races have seen green-white-checkered finishes prolong the race. That makes starting up front more important: per NASCAR Notes, the winner at Darlington has come from the front row 36 of 109 times.

Three of the last five races in this year's Sprint Cup have been won by the racer who qualified in pole position, including the STP Gas Booster 500 at Martinsville, where Jimmie Johnson was the top qualifier and finisher. Johnson's one of the racers who has mastered Darlington, winning three times, including, twice in this event. Johnson continued the trend of good qualifiers winning, as he took last year's race from the outside pole position.

Qualification begins at 5 p.m. on SPEED. The race itself is set for 6:45 Saturday, broadcast on FOX.

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