It was the 26th Sprint Cup pole of Johnson's career, but his first since September 2010, when he started out front at Dover, Del.
When qualifying began Friday the air temperature was more than 100 degrees and a reading of 143 degrees was recorded on the track itself. Thunderstorms then moved into the area and although it never rained at the track the cloud cover brought about a temperature drop of 40 degrees.
Johnson was the 43rd driver to make his qualifying attempt and he turned in a time of 181.818 mph for his lap.
Kyle Busch qualified second, followed by Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman. The rest of the Top 10 was made up of Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr.
Points leader Matt Kenseth qualified 20th.