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NASCAR At Fontana Qualifying Results: Juan Pablo Montoya Wins Auto Club Speedway Pole

Juan Pablo Montoya had struggled to put together good qualifying results in the first few races of this season, finishing higher than where he started in every Sprint Cup Series event so far in 2011.

But Montoya solved that problem on Friday at Fontana, claiming the top spot for Sunday's Auto Club 400 starting lineup with a lap of 184.653 mph.

"I didn't think we were going to qualify that well," a smiling Montoya said. "Overall, I was really happy. Actually, I'm really surprised we qualified that well."

The pole was the sixth of Montoya's career, with the most recent coming last fall at Talladega. None of Montoya's previous poles had come at a 1.5- or 2-mile oval, however.

Denny Hamlin made a late charge to try and knock Montoya off, but he came up just short and recorded a lap of 184.270 mph. He'll be second on the starting grid.

Hamlin's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Joey Logano, was third, followed by Regan Smith and Tony Stewart.

Smith continued his strong qualifying efforts this season. He had a series-leading 6.5 average starting position entering the Auto Club Speedway weekend.

David Ragan, Jeff Burton, Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman and Mark Martin rounded out the top 10.

There were only 43 cars entered in the race, meaning none of the so-called "go-or-go-home" drivers were actually sent home. All of them made the race.

Other notable drivers included Southern California native Jimmie Johnson (16th), Carl Edwards (18th), points leader Kurt Busch (23th), Jeff Gordon (29th) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (30th).

Here is the starting lineup for Sunday's Auto Club 400 in Fontana:

  1. Juan Pablo Montoya
  2. Denny Hamlin
  3. Joey Logano
  4. Regan Smith
  5. Tony Stewart
  6. David Ragan
  7. Jeff Burton
  8. Kyle Busch
  9. Ryan Newman
  10. Mark Martin
  11. Matt Kenseth
  12. Jamie McMurray
  13. Marcos Ambrose
  14. David Reutimann
  15. Paul Menard
  16. Jimmie Johnson
  17. Clint Bowyer
  18. Carl Edwards
  19. Brian Vickers
  20. AJ Allmendinger
  21. Brad Keselowski
  22. Kasey Kahne
  23. Kurt Busch
  24. Kevin Harvick
  25. Martin Truex Jr.
  26. Casey Mears
  27. Trevor Bayne
  28. Landon Cassill
  29. Jeff Gordon
  30. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  31. Greg Biffle
  32. Dave Blaney
  33. Bobby Labonte
  34. Michael McDowell
  35. Robby Gordon
  36. Travis Kvapil
  37. David Gilliland
  38. Andy Lally
  39. Ken Schrader
  40. Joe Nemechek
  41. Todd Bodine
  42. Tony Raines
  43. JJ Yeley