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Jimmie Johnson qualified 24th for Sunday’s AdvoCare 500k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway.
Johnson, who came into Phoenix with back-to-back poles and back-to-back wins to give him a seven-point lead in the championship standings, drove his No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports to a lap of 26.580 seconds at 135.440 mph around the 1-mile oval.
“Wasn’t so good, but we’ve been fighting a little bit in qualifying trim,” said Johnson, who has four wins at Phoenix (November 2007, 2008, 2009 and April 2008). “But, we’ve got a great baseline race setup to go off of. For me, it was really turn one. The glare was pretty bad getting into the turn, then getting the power down was tough for me up off of (turn) two. (Turns) three and four were pretty good on both of my laps, but I struggled oddly enough down there this time.”
Kyle Busch captured his 10th career Sprint Cup pole, his second of the season and his second at Phoenix by turning a lap of 25.943 seconds at 138.766 mph, breaking the previous Sprint Cup track qualifying record of 26.224 seconds at 137.279 mph set by Carl Edwards on Feb. 26, 2011.
Martin Truex Jr. will start on the outside of row one after clocking in at 26.046 seconds at 138.217 mph. Denny Hamlin was third (26.167 seconds at 137.578 mph), while Kasey Kahne (26.186 seconds at 137.478 mph) and Aric Almirola (26.237 seconds at 137.211 mph) rounded out the top-five.
Forty-four drivers attempted to qualify for the AdvoCare 500k. The lone driver not making the cut in the 43-car field was J.J. Yeley.
Toyota took the top spot among manufacturers via Busch’s pole run. Chevrolet was next best at the hands of Kahne. Ford was the third-fastest make thanks to Almirola. Fourteenth-quick Brad Keselowski (26.350 seconds at 136.622 mph), who is second to Johnson in the championship standings, carried the flag for Dodge.
The AdvoCare 500k, the penultimate race of the 2012 Sprint Cup season, gets underway at 3 p.m. EST Sunday, with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with a pre-race show at 2 p.m.