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Gibbs team to Jimmie: We've got you surrounded

October 26, 2013, Zack Albert,

Series points leader to start in middle of JGR trio

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- It isn't an unusual sight to see Jimmie Johnson taking the green flag from the front row at Martinsville Speedway. He'll do that Sunday after snagging the second starting position in Friday's Coors Light Pole Qualifying.

What will be unusual is to see him cornered in the double-file lineup by Joe Gibbs Racing drivers all around.

Denny Hamlin will start from the pole alongside Johnson in Sunday's Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 powered by Kroger (1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) with JGR Toyota teammates Kyle Busch (third) and Matt Kenseth (fourth) lined up behind them in the second row. In the post-qualifying press conference, it didn't take much coaxing to plant the seed of a Gibbs triple-team to shake up the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings.

"No doubt, we're going to be racing in close quarters all day Sunday," Busch said, "and I've got the best shot at Jimmie's left-rear getting into (Turn) 1."

Busch happened to be sitting next to Johnson at the time, prompting laughs from the five-time champion, who holds a four-point lead over second-place Kenseth and a 26-point advantage over third-place Busch.

Still, Johnson said he wasn't concerned about anything unseemly taking place at the drop of the green.

"I wasn't until Kyle got so excited. No, maybe I should be, but not as of now," Johnson, an eight-time Martinsville winner, said with a laugh. "We will all race hard, I’m sure. We have all been, at least so far, have been in a lot of situations with each driver and been able to race hard and take it right to the line, but not cross it."


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