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Phoenix: Cup qualifying

Chase leader Jimmie Johnson will start Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race from pole position, giving him the upper hand over Matt Kenseth going into the penultimate race of the season.
Jimmie Johnson was one of the final cars out on track in qualifying for Sunday afternoon's AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, but he made it count with a searing time that put him at the front of the grid for the last-but-one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season.

Johnson's pole-winning time of 25.858s (139.222mph) was the latest example of the new Gen-6 car breaking a qualifying time trial record in 2013, elicping the previous benchmark of 25.943s (138.766mph) set by Kyle Busch last autumn at the one-mile, low-banked tri-oval. It's Johnson's third pole of the year and his 32nd in 434 series starts, but just the second time that he'll have started from the front at Phoenix.

“I just have to thank everybody on this Hendrick team," said Johnson after qualifying concluded. "This KOBALT Tools Lowe's Chevrolet has been very good off the truck and we were able to back it up and get it done in qualifying. I knew we had a fast car in practice and it's tough to back it up. It's a very tough field and a very tough industry and I'm proud of the effort across the board at Hendrick Motorsports to get it done today.”

Securing pole gives Johnson a significant advantage as the Chase builds to its climax. With Johnson already seven points ahead of chief rival Matt Kenseth coming into this weekend, and Kenseth only able to qualify in 14th place for this weekend's race, the five-time Cup champion could come out of Phoenix with an effectively decisive lead in the championship heading onto the season finale at Homestead-Miami on November 17.

Behind Johnson and Hamlin on the grid, the second row is an all-Chase affair with Joey Logano set to start alongside Kyle Busch. Although Busch is in fourth place in the standings, he's 42 points adrift of Johnson - almost a full race's points haul and is therefore all-but out of the running for the 2013 title.

Johnson's Hendrick team mate Jeff Gordon will try to bounce back from last week's disappointment by starting from fifth place alongside Clint Bowyer, while the third Hendrick driver Kasey Kahne starts immediately behind alongside Kurt Busch, with Kevin Harvick slotting into ninth place on the grid to make it eight spots in the top ten taken by Chase contenders.

Martin Truex will join Harvick on the fifth row, meaning that the fourth and final Hendrick driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. just missed out of the top ten and will start from 11th sharing the row with reigning champion Brad Keselowski. With Kenseth starting from 14th, that leaves Ryan Newman in 17th, Greg Biffle in 18th and his Roush Fenway team mate Carl Edwards a disappointing 23rd as the lowest of the 13 official Chase contenders, although the #99 is among four of the field already mathematically ruled out of the title battle.

Qualifying times

1. #48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 25.858s (Pole) 139.222mph
2. #11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 25.895s (+ 0.037s) 139.023mph
3. #22 Joey Logano Ford 25.910s (+ 0.052s) 138.942mph
4. #18 Kyle Busch Toyota 25.927s (+ 0.069s) 138.851mph
5. #24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 25.969s (+ 0.111s) 138.627mph
6. #15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 25.975s (+ 0.117s) 138.595mph
7. #5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 25.989s (+ 0.131s) 138.520mph
8. #78 Kurt Busch Chevrolet 26.003s (+ 0.145s) 138.446mph
9. #29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 26.031s (+ 0.173s) 138.297mph
10. #56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 26.074s (+ 0.216s) 138.069mph
11. #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 26.077s (+ 0.219s) 138.053mph
12. #2 Brad Keselowski Ford 26.093s (+ 0.235s) 137.968mph
13. #27 Paul Menard Chevrolet 26.137s (+ 0.279s) 137.736mph
14. #20 Matt Kenseth Toyota 26.143s (+ 0.285s) 137.704mph
15. #31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet 26.153s (+ 0.295s) 137.652mph
16. #14 Mark Martin Chevrolet 26.199s (+ 0.341s) 137.410mph
17. #39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 26.232s (+ 0.374s) 137.237mph
18. #16 Greg Biffle Ford 26.240s (+ 0.382s) 137.195mph
19. #42 Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet 26.248s (+ 0.390s) 137.153mph
20. #9 Marcos Ambrose Ford 26.283s (+ 0.425s) 136.971mph
21. #43 Aric Almirola Ford 26.288s (+ 0.430s) 136.945mph
22. #55 Elliott Sadler Toyota 26.337s (+ 0.479s) 136.690mph
23. #99 Carl Edwards Ford 26.339s (+ 0.481s) 136.679mph
24. #95 Reed Sorenson Ford 26.452s (+ 0.594s) 136.096mph
25. #51 Justin Allgaier Chevrolet 26.469s (+ 0.611s) 136.008mph
26. #47 Bobby Labonte Toyota 26.478s (+ 0.620s) 135.962mph
27. #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford 26.481s (+ 0.623s) 135.947mph
28. #35 Josh Wise Ford 26.511s (+ 0.653s) 135.793mph
29. #30 Cole Whitt Toyota 26.526s (+ 0.668s) 135.716mph
30. #13 Casey Mears Ford 26.553s (+ 0.695s) 135.578mph
31. #93 Travis Kvapil Toyota 26.588s (+ 0.730s) 135.399mph
32. #10 Danica Patrick Chevrolet 26.592s (+ 0.734s) 135.379mph
33. #38 David Gilliland Ford 26.603s (+ 0.745s) 135.323mph
34. #34 David Ragan Ford 26.612s (+ 0.754s) 135.277mph
35. #36 JJ Yeley Chevrolet 26.645s (+ 0.787s) 135.110mph
36. #1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 26.694s (+ 0.836s) 134.862mph
37. #83 David Reutimann Toyota 26.737s (+ 0.879s) 134.645mph
38. #32 Timmy Hill Ford 26.760s (+ 0.902s) 134.529mph
39. #98 Michael McDowell Ford 26.792s (+ 0.934s) 134.368mph
40. #40 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 26.882s (+ 1.024s) 133.919mph
41. #33 Tony Raines Chevrolet 27.261s (+ 1.403s) 132.057mph
42. #7 Dave Blaney Chevrolet 27.360s (+ 1.502s) 131.579mph
43. #87 Joe Nemechek Toyota 27.549s (+ 1.691s) 130.676mph

Practice 1 times

1. #48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 25.914s (Leader) 138.921mph (39 laps)
2. #42 Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet 25.918s (-0.004s) 138.900mph (33 laps)
3. #18 Kyle Busch Toyota 26.020s (-0.106s) 138.355mph (46 laps)
4. #78 Kurt Busch Chevrolet 26.066s (-0.152s) 138.111mph (41 laps)
5. #22 Joey Logano Ford 26.078s (-0.164s) 138.047mph (49 laps)
6. #20 Matt Kenseth Toyota 26.120s (-0.206s) 137.825mph (28 laps)
7. #15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 26.129s (-0.215s) 137.778mph (42 laps)
8. #2 Brad Keselowski Ford 26.150s (-0.236s) 137.667mph (33 laps)
9. #11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 26.153s (-0.239s) 137.652mph (37 laps)
10. #24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 26.157s (-0.243s) 137.630mph (44 laps)
11. #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 26.159s (-0.245s) 137.620mph (39 laps)
12. #14 Mark Martin Chevrolet 26.169s (-0.255s) 137.567mph (41 laps)
13. #9 Marcos Ambrose Ford 26.181s (-0.267s) 137.504mph (28 laps)
14. #99 Carl Edwards Ford 26.187s (-0.273s) 137.473mph (33 laps)
15. #56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 26.194s (-0.280s) 137.436mph (27 laps)
16. #43 Aric Almirola Ford 26.202s (-0.288s) 137.394mph (36 laps)
17. #27 Paul Menard Chevrolet 26.211s (-0.297s) 137.347mph (39 laps)
18. #5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 26.230s (-0.316s) 137.247mph (40 laps)
19. #29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 26.235s (-0.321s) 137.221mph (38 laps)
20. #16 Greg Biffle Ford 26.247s (-0.333s) 137.159mph (39 laps)
21. #51 Justin Allgaier Chevrolet 26.291s (-0.377s) 136.929mph (42 laps)
22. #10 Danica Patrick Chevrolet 26.300s (-0.386s) 136.882mph (42 laps)
23. #1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 26.333s (-0.419s) 136.711mph (32 laps)
24. #31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet 26.349s (-0.435s) 136.628mph (39 laps)
25. #39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 26.352s (-0.438s) 136.612mph (29 laps)
26. #55 Elliott Sadler Toyota 26.362s (-0.448s) 136.560mph (45 laps)
27. #47 Bobby Labonte Toyota 26.377s (-0.463s) 136.483mph (30 laps)
28. #30 Cole Whitt Toyota 26.462s (-0.548s) 136.044mph (39 laps)
29. #93 Travis Kvapil Toyota 26.479s (-0.565s) 135.957mph (36 laps)
30. #83 David Reutimann Toyota 26.523s (-0.609s) 135.731mph (28 laps)
31. #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford 26.534s (-0.620s) 135.675mph (31 laps)
32. #38 David Gilliland Ford 26.597s (-0.683s) 135.354mph (46 laps)
33. #13 Casey Mears Ford 26.664s (-0.750s) 135.014mph (34 laps)
34. #34 David Ragan Ford 26.707s (-0.793s) 134.796mph (31 laps)
35. #98 Michael McDowell Ford 26.709s (-0.795s) 134.786mph (20 laps)
36. #35 Josh Wise Ford 26.724s (-0.810s) 134.710mph (11 laps)
37. #95 Reed Sorenson Ford 26.739s (-0.825s) 134.635mph (33 laps)
38. #7 Dave Blaney Chevrolet 26.827s (-0.913s) 134.193mph (24 laps)
39. #32 Timmy Hill Ford 26.862s (-0.948s) 134.018mph (12 laps)
40. #87 Joe Nemechek Toyota 27.055s (-1.141s) 133.062mph (12 laps)
41. #36 JJ Yeley Chevrolet 27.078s (-1.164s) 132.949mph (34 laps)
42. #33 Tony Raines Chevrolet 27.256s (-1.342s) 132.081mph (23 laps)
43. #40 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 27.455s (-1.541s) 131.124mph (27 laps)



Related Pictures

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Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, prepares to practice during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Advocare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 8, 2013 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, drives in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Advocare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 8, 2013 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Harry How/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, celebrates after setting the pole position in qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Advocare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 8, 2013 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, passes Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, to take the lead and win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, leads Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, Miss Sprint Cup Kim Coon, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, pose for a photo prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, and Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, burn out as Crafton celebrates winning the series championship and Wallace celebrates winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship in Victory Lane with the trophy, NASCAR President Mike Helton and sportscaster Krista Voda during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the series championship and placing ninth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 ToyotaCare Toyota, pits during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

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