Breaking News: Jimmie Johnson Beat by Sprint Cup Rookie

Janelle JalbertCorrespondent IOctober 23, 2009

MARTINSVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 23:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, walks in the garage area prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 23, 2009 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Okay, so it is only qualifying, but when was the last time that type of headline was even a possibility? More unfathomable, yet accurate, is the fact that Jimmie Johnson was the worst of the Hendrick team in qualifying at Martinsville. Jeff Gordon qualified shotgun; Mark Martin in 4th; and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 12th.  A hint of things to come?

For the sake of honesty, Joey Logano did indeed qualify better than the 48 in Friday’s rain delayed qualifying session, by placing 7th to Johnson’s 15th.  Ryan Newman returned to the pole position in his Army 39 car.

Overall, the California Cup drivers qualified well. The top California qualifier was Casey Mears in the 07 car, who has openly acknowledged that he is racing for his job in the final races of 2009. RCR teammate, Kevin Harvick put the 29 car 10th on the starting grid, even with a wall scrape during his qualifying effort.

A group of California drivers will begin Sunday’s race in the teens. Johnson will start 15th as previously stated. AJ Allmendinger will start along side of Johnson in 16th, and Scott Speed will launch from the 18th position.

At the back of the pack, Robby Gordon will fire up the 7 car in 33rd, as he works with his new crew chief for the remainder of the 2009 season. David Gilliland returns in the number 71 car and will start in the 35th spot.

Finally, Riverside’s Josh Wise went for his first qualifying attempt at Martinsville in the number 73. Unfortunately, he had the slowest posted qualifying time and was the only car not to make the field for Sunday’s race.