Skip to content

Chase leader Jimmie Johnson on pole for Phoenix

Nov 8, 2013, 8:08 PM EST

Advocare 500 - Practice Getty Images

With Chase for the Sprint Cup leader Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth separated by only seven points with two races remaining, every advantage gained by either of them will be critical.

Today, Johnson may have earned a big one as he won the pole for Sunday’s Advocare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway with a time of 25.858 seconds (139.222 mph) around the 1-mile oval. Before going out to qualify, Johnson said he expected track position to be the most critical factor in Sunday’s race.

“We haven’t been able to really work in a second lane around here and create passing opportunities,” he said. “That means your strategy on pit road and the stops themselves are where the weight really lies.

“If you back up another step from that, making sure your car is good on older tires is going to be important as race practice develops and you’re not going to want to be on pit road much or very long when it shakes out on Sunday.”

Johnson, a four-time winner at PIR and one of four drivers in the track’s history to win a Cup race from the pole position, was also quickest in this morning’s practice session. His pole run in the afternoon was a track record, marking the 19th time this season that the Generation 6 cars have broken an old mark.

As for Kenseth, who has one past win at PIR (2002), he will have to start from 14th position on Sunday after turning a lap of 26.143 seconds (137.704 mph).

Denny Hamlin, who has logged three consecutive top-three finishes at PIR, will start alongside Johnson on the front row thanks to his time of 25.895 seconds (139.023 mph). Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. (10th, 26.074 seconds/138.069 mph) are the only two non-Chase competitors with a Top-10 starting position for Sunday.

Joey Logano and Kyle Busch make up Row 2, followed by Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer in Row 3, Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch in Row 4, and Kevin Harvick and Truex in Row 5. Carl Edwards, who won this past spring at PIR, will have to rally from 23rd on the grid.

Other notables include Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 11th, Brad Keselowski in 12th, Jeff Burton (celebrating his 1,000th NASCAR national series start this weekend) in 15th, and Danica Patrick in 32nd.

Latest Posts
  1. Indy USF2000 winner Will Owen moves to Juncos Racing, Pro Mazda Series in 2015

    Nov 22, 2014, 6:15 PM EST

    (Photo courtesy Juncos Racing) (Photo courtesy Juncos Racing)

    Will Owen, who impressively won the 2014 USF2000 race as a rookie at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this past May, is moving up the racing ladder.

  2. Marco Andretti, Will Power, AJ Allmendinger go back to roots in big karting race this weekend in Las Vegas

    Nov 22, 2014, 5:15 PM EST

    superkarts usa

    Marco Andretti, reigning IndyCar champ Will Power and NASCAR driver AJ Allmendinger, are all going back to their racing roots this weekend in Las Vegas, taking part in one of the biggest karting events of the season.

  3. Luke Lambert, Ryan Newman’s crew chief, named ‘Problem Solver of the Year’; earns $100k prize

    Nov 22, 2014, 4:45 PM EST

    Ryan Newman, left, team owner Richard Childress and crew chief Luke Lambert together at Homestead-Miami Speedway last weekend. (Robert Laberge/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Luke, Lambert, crew chief for Ryan Newman, has been named Federal-Mogul Motorparts’ “Problem Solver of the Year.” And with it comes a $100,000 prize that he’ll receive Dec. 4 in Las Vegas.

  4. Former F1 driver Mark Webber talks Hamilton-Rosberg title battle (VIDEO)

    Nov 22, 2014, 4:30 PM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of USA - Race Getty Images

    The former Grand Prix regular and current sports car racer chats with NBCSN’s Will Buxton in Abu Dhabi.

  5. Force India owner Vijay Mallya comes out firing against Red Bull on Twitter

    Nov 22, 2014, 3:50 PM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Practice Getty Images

    Mallya attacks Red Bull following its double exclusion from today’s qualifying session in Abu Dhabi.

  6. Formula E Notes: Lucas di Grassi keeps points lead; Nick Heidfeld excluded from Putrajaya ePrix

    Nov 22, 2014, 3:00 PM EST

    Formula E Championship - Putrajaya Getty Images

    di Grassi climbs from 18th on the grid to second at finish in Putrajaya ePrix; Nick Heidfeld found to have made pit stop car change outside permitted area, relegated to 19th.

  7. Abu Dhabi GP Paddock Notebook – Saturday

    Nov 22, 2014, 2:30 PM EST

    Lewis Hamilton AP

    The stage is set for the final showdown on Sunday. Will it be Lewis or Nico?

  8. GP2: Vandoorne claims fourth win of 2014 in Abu Dhabi

    Nov 22, 2014, 1:45 PM EST

    © GP2 Media Service © GP2 Media Service

    McLaren junior driver moves up to second in the championship with feature race win in Abu Dhabi.

  9. IndyCar: Ryan Hunter-Reay, partners give $2.5 million to new Cleveland Clinic cancer center

    Nov 22, 2014, 1:30 PM EST

    Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach - Day 2 Getty Images

    The new cancer center’s lobby will be named in honor of RHR’s late mother, who succumbed to colon cancer in 2009.

  10. Stevens impresses in maiden F1 qualifying outing

    Nov 22, 2014, 1:15 PM EST

    AUTO-PRIX-F1-ABU-DHABI-PRACTICE Getty Images

    The British F1 debutant will start his first grand prix from 17th place tomorrow.

  11. Jeremy Mayfield continues racing comeback this weekend in Myrtle Beach

    Nov 22, 2014, 12:58 PM EST

    Jeremy Mayfield, shown in one of his last Sprint Cup races, at Texas, in 2009. He was suspended by the sanctioning body a few weeks later for failing a drug test. (File photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

    He remains suspended by NASCAR, but Jeremy Mayfield continues his racing comeback this weekend at Myrtle Beach Speedway.

  12. Red Bull drivers excluded from qualifying in Abu Dhabi

    Nov 22, 2014, 12:30 PM EST

    AUTO-PRIX-F1-ABU-DHABI-PRACTICE Getty Images

    Ricciardo and Vettel to start from the back of the grid in Abu Dhabi.

  13. Button ready to enjoy what could be his final grand prix

    Nov 22, 2014, 12:00 PM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi - Qualifying Getty Images

    With his family and friends in Abu Dhabi, Button is simply enjoying the moment.

  14. McLaren likely to keep Vandoorne in GP2 next year

    Nov 22, 2014, 11:30 AM EST

    © Alastair Staley/LAT Photographic © Alastair Staley/LAT Photographic

    The 22-year-old is not set to move up to F1 despite an incredible rookie season in GP2.

  15. Bottas and Williams cast in Abu Dhabi spoiler role from second row

    Nov 22, 2014, 11:15 AM EST

    BottasADp3 Getty Images

    Valtteri Bottas and Williams best of the rest once again in Abu Dhabi qualifying.

  16. O’Connell confident Caterham can find a buyer

    Nov 22, 2014, 11:00 AM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi - Practice Getty Images

    The administrator put in charge of the ailing F1 team believes that a buyer can be found in the next couple of weeks.

  17. Vettel frustrated to have Ferrari test blocked by Red Bull

    Nov 22, 2014, 10:30 AM EST

    AUTO-PRIX-F1-ABU-DHABI-PRESSER Getty Images

    “The technical people were panicking a little bit, being afraid that I would take some secrets.”

  18. Force India confirms Sergio Perez on multi-year deal

    Nov 22, 2014, 10:13 AM EST

    Sergio Perez AP

    The Mexican driver will remain with Force India for 2015 alongside Nico Hulkenberg.

  19. Mattiacci impressed by Vettel’s passion for Ferrari

    Nov 22, 2014, 10:00 AM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Practice Getty Images

    It was confirmed on Thursday that the four time F1 world champion would be joining Ferrari for the 2015 season, replacing Fernando Alonso.

Video from NASCAR America

Most unexpected event of 2014?
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. Johnson (1909)
  2. J. Gordon (1888)
  3. J. Logano (1784)
  4. D. Hamlin (1764)
  5. K. Harvick (1714)
  1. R. Newman (1704)
  2. T. Stewart (1523)
  3. J. McMurray (1340)
  4. K. Kahne (1330)
  5. K. Larson (1324)