DOVER, Del. - Jimmie Johnson stopped at a media scrum Saturday and snapped a photo of Bobby Allison.
Johnson will zoom in on Allison again when he starts first in today's Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway. Johnson is one win shy of matching Allison and Richard Petty, who share the record of seven victories on the Monster Mile.
Johnson has won three of the past four races at Dover, including a sweep in 2009.
The five-time defending Cup champion doesn't need any additional help going for the checkered flag. But he caught a break when rain wiped out qualifying Saturday and put his No.48 Chevrolet on the pole for the FedEx 400.
Johnson starts first because he posted the fastest average practice speeds. This is the first time this season NASCAR used the new system that starts drivers based on practice speed, not by points standings, when qualifying is canceled.
"I don't feel like we have a very good handle on it, although things worked good for us this weekend," Johnson said.
Of course they did. He's Jimmie Johnson.
AJ Allmendinger will start second after rain hit hard at Dover, wiping out qualifying. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is third.
"I don't understand," Allmendinger said, turning toward Johnson with a smile. "The system is the same for you. You're either fastest (in practice), or they used to do it by points, so you started on the pole. Not sure how much different that is for you."
After Johnson said he only cared about leading the final lap, not the first one, Allmendinger asked for an early free pass.
"I don't start up front a lot and I can lead a lap, or two or three, it looks good on my stats," Allmendinger said. "So are you just going to let me have the start or what?"
"I'm not going to let you have it," Johnson said, "But go for it."
Allmendinger is 11th in the standings after 10 races, one spot out of the top 10 guaranteed to make the season-ending Chase for the Championship.
Johnson is second in points behind Carl Edwards, who starts 13th. Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick - on probation and embroiled in feud - start seventh and 10th.
Johnson also popped by for a quick hello to the driver he calls a living legend. Allison was honored for a career that will see him inducted into NASCAR's Hall of Fame next week. Johnson has crafted a career that will surely see him enshrined among the greats.
Each of them can credit success at Dover for their dominating careers.
"Five hundred laps around this place, let me tell you what, is a day's work," Allison said. "To be there in Victory Lane at the end was just really, really great."
The track shaved 100 miles off the length of the race years ago.
At 400 miles, Johnson is always the driver to beat.
"It reminds me a little bit of my off-road days," Johnson said. "I really like this track. Our race wins and finishes kind of back that up. I'm looking forward to another great weekend and I would love to hopefully get a win and get some more points."
"It reminds me a little bit of my off-road days. I really like this track. Our race wins and finishes kind of back that up."
Jimmie Johnson,who has six Sprint Cup victories at Dover
Sprint Cup points
Through 10 of 36 races. The top 10 drivers plus two wild cards (based on wins) through 26 races make the Chase for the Championship.
Driver Pts. Back
Carl Edwards 378 -
Jimmie Johnson 355 23
Kyle Busch 339 39
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 331 47
Kevin Harvick 328 50
Ryan Newman 317 61
Tony Stewart 313 65
Kurt Busch 306 72
Clint Bowyer 297 81
Matt Kenseth 295 83
FedEx 400, 1 p.m., Dover (Del.) International Speedway