Johnson Wins Pole

Jimmie Johnson

Jimmie Johnson scored his third pole of the season Friday at Phoenix International Raceway. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Sprint Cup Series point leader Jimmie Johnson continued his roll by taking the pole for Sunday’s AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix Int’l Raceway.

Johnson turned a lap of 139.222 mph in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet to capture his third pole of the season. It was the 32nd pole of his Sprint Cup career and first since he earned the top spot at Pocono in August.

The five-time champion brings a seven-point lead over Matt Kenseth into the season’s penultimate race and took advantage of a late qualifying draw and cooler track conditions to help his lap.

Johnson now has the advantage of starting at the front of the field as well as earning the No. 1 one pit stall in his quest to score back-to-back wins on Sunday after his Texas victory a week ago.

But he understands one fast lap in qualifying does not guarantee success during the 312-lap race.

“It’s still a long race where a lot can happen and strategy plays a part in what takes place in Sunday’s race,” he said.  “So we did ourselves a lot of favors here by getting the pole, having that first pit stall, and track position to start the race with. A lot of things will be in our favor, but we still have to go out there and get to work to get the job done on Sunday.”

Kenseth was forced to go out early in the qualifying session and the slicker track played a role in the Joe Gibbs Racing driver turning the 14th fastest lap.

“Just really didn't have a good lap,” said Kenseth who finished seventh in Phoenix in March.  “Didn't really do what we were hoping to do. The good news is we've got all day (Saturday) to get it driving better. Hopefully, we'll get it good for Sunday."

Despite the deficit on the starting grid, Kenseth is hopeful he’ll be able to make up spots during the race both on track as well as with strategy.

“I think you're going to have to have a good balance, good speed, you have to be able to pass, have to have good pit stops - all these things," Kenseth said. "I don't feel it's a track where you're going to get a whole bunch of free ones from a strategy call. I think you're going to have to be good all day."

Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon completed the top five qualifiers.

Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. completed the first ten.

Sprint Cup Series teams will practice twice on Saturday in preparation for Sunday’s AdvoCare 500.

Motor Racing Network – "The Voice of NASCAR" – will have live coverage of Sunday’s AdvoCare 500 from Phoenix International Raceway at 2 p.m. (ET), with live streaming at MRN.com.

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