Aiming for his fifth victory at Phoenix, Jimmie Johnson places his Hendrick Chevrolet on the pole.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader and four-time Phoenix International Raceway event winner Jimmie Johnson began the Advocare 500 race weekend by claiming the pole starting spot on Friday for his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet with a qualifying lap time of 25.858 seconds. His lap set a track qualifying record, breaking Kyle Busch's old record set for the same race a year ago.
"I just have to thank everybody on this Hendrick team," Johnson said. "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."
Denny Hamlin was second-fast in qualifying with a time of 25.895 seconds to line his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota up beside Johnson on the front row of the starting grid for Sunday's race. The No. 22 Penske Race Ford of Joey Logano qualified third. He'll share the second row with the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Kyle Busch. The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Jeff Gordon rounded out the top-five in qualifying.
"I thought the lap was okay," Logano said. "I didn't think it was spectacular, but it's going to be a decent starting spot."
Johnson's closest championship competitor, Matt Kenseth in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, wound up outside the top-10, qualifying 14th. Other drivers qualifying in the top-10 include the No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota of Clint Bowyer in sixth, the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Kasey Kahne in seventh, the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet of Kurt Busch in eighth, the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick in ninth, and the No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota of Martin Truex Jr. in 10th.
Eight of the top-10 spots were claimed by Chase for the Sprint Cup competitors, with Hamlin and Truex being the only non-Chasers in the top-10. Carl Edwards was the slowest Chaser in qualifying, taking the 23rd spot for his No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford.
"I was just way tighter than I thought it was going to be," Edwards said. "It's just very frustrating. We'll just have to work harder in the race, but that's pretty frustrating."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified just outside the top-10, qualifying 11th in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Kenseth qualified 14th and fellow-Chaser Ryan Newman qualified 17th in the No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. Greg Biffle was 18th in the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford.