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MOTHER NATURE GIVES JOHNSON THE POLE

If Jimmie Johnson owns any stock on Wall Street he might be the only American who has made money the past couple of weeks.

The man is blessed.

The two-time reigning champion of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series escaped a crash a few weeks ago at Talladega, Ala., while some other Chase for the Cup contenders saw their hopes wrecked.

And now it looks like he’s in cahoots with Mother Nature.

For the third straight week, Johnson will start on the pole for a Cup race because rain washed out qualifying. This time, weather at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Friday gives the points leader a free pass to start Sunday’s race out front.

Johnson has started on the pole nine times this year and four of those were when wet weather wiped out qualifying.

When qualifying is cancelled the starting order is based on driver points standings, and that gives the points leader the pole.

Starting in front always is a good thing, but it more importantly gives the pole-sitter choice of pit stall and an almost guaranteed five-point bonus for leading a lap.

Greg Biffle, who is second in points and trails Johnson by 149, will start second on the grid, followed by Jeff Burton, three points behind Biffle.

NASCAR should try to postpone qualifying to the next day instead of dumping it even if it comes at the expense of losing a practice session.

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