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NASCAR NEWS 

Phoenix NASCAR: Kyle Busch takes pole, Jimmie Johnson struggles

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Toyota, Phoenix 2012Kyle Busch claimed pole position for Sunday's penultimate NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase round at Phoenix while championship leader Jimmie Johnson struggled.

Fresh from a strong third-place finish behind title combatants Johnson and Brad Keselowski at Texas last week, Joe Gibbs Toyota driver Busch set the pace in Friday practice at Phoenix.

He backed up that speed later with a first flying lap in qualifying that knocked Michael Waltrip Racing's Martin Truex Jr from provisional pole position.

Busch's lap of 25.934 seconds, at an average speed of 138.766 mph, set a new track record for the one-mile Phoenix International Raceway oval.

Behind him and Truex, Busch's team-mate Denny Hamlin made it a top-three sweep for Toyota.

Hamlin finished ahead of last year's event winner Kasey Kahne, who was the best of the Chevrolet drivers in fourth, and Aric Almirola's Richard Petty Motorsports Ford.

For the first time in the last five races, and for only the third time in the Chase, Keselowski qualified ahead of championship leader Johnson.

Penske driver Keselowski finished the session in 14th, while five-time champion Johnson - a four-time winner at Phoenix - will see the green flag from 24th. The result was Johnson's worst qualifying of the Chase so far and among his lowest of the season

Michael McDowell was the best of the non-guaranteed drivers in 28th while JJ Yeley failed to make the field.

Pos  Driver              Team/Car                     Time     Gap
 1.  Kyle Busch          Gibbs Toyota                 25.943s
 2.  Martin Truex Jr     Waltrip Toyota               26.046s  + 0.103s
 3.  Denny Hamlin        Gibbs Toyota                 26.167s  + 0.224s
 4.  Kasey Kahne         Hendrick Chevrolet           26.186s  + 0.243s
 5.  Aric Almirola       Petty Ford                   26.237s  + 0.294s
 6.  Kurt Busch          Furniture Row Chevrolet      26.276s  + 0.333s
 7.  Paul Menard         Childress Chevrolet          26.279s  + 0.336s
 8.  Regan Smith         Phoenix Chevrolet            26.302s  + 0.359s
 9.  Tony Stewart        Stewart-Haas Chevrolet       26.303s  + 0.360s
10.  Mark Martin         Waltrip Toyota               26.303s  + 0.360s
11.  Jeff Gordon         Hendrick Chevrolet           26.310s  + 0.367s
12.  Ryan Newman         Stewart-Haas Chevrolet       26.331s  + 0.388s
13.  Carl Edwards        Roush Fenway Ford            26.339s  + 0.396s
14.  Brad Keselowski     Penske Dodge                 26.350s  + 0.407s
15.  Joey Logano         Gibbs Toyota                 26.376s  + 0.433s
16.  Clint Bowyer        Waltrip Toyota               26.386s  + 0.443s
17.  Marcos Ambrose      Petty Ford                   26.401s  + 0.458s
18.  Jamie McMurray      Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet  26.402s  + 0.459s
19.  Kevin Harvick       Childress Chevrolet          26.418s  + 0.475s
20.  Greg Biffle         Roush Fenway Ford            26.428s  + 0.485s
21.  Juan Pablo Montoya  Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet  26.470s  + 0.527s
22.  Matt Kenseth        Roush Fenway Ford            26.489s  + 0.546s
23.  Dale Earnhardt Jr   Hendrick Chevrolet           26.559s  + 0.616s
24.  Jimmie Johnson      Hendrick Chevrolet           26.580s  + 0.637s
25.  Casey Mears         Germain Ford                 26.625s  + 0.682s
26.  Sam Hornish Jr      Penske Dodge                 26.633s  + 0.690s
27.  Landon Cassill      BK Toyota                    26.677s  + 0.734s
28.  Michael McDowell    Parsons Ford                 26.677s  + 0.734s
29.  David Ragan         Front Row Ford               26.680s  + 0.737s
30.  Bobby Labonte       JTG Daugherty Toyota         26.776s  + 0.833s
31.  David Gilliland     Front Row Ford               26.791s  + 0.848s
32.  David Stremme       Inception Toyota             26.797s  + 0.854s
33.  Jeff Burton         Childress Chevrolet          26.826s  + 0.883s
34.  David Reutimann     Xxxtreme Ford                26.864s  + 0.921s
35.  Stephen Leicht      Circle Sport Chevrolet       26.942s  + 0.999s
36.  Mike Bliss          Humphrey Smith Toyota        26.951s  + 1.008s
37.  Danica Patrick      Stewart-Haas Chevrolet       27.077s  + 1.134s
38.  Josh Wise           Front Row Ford               27.105s  + 1.162s
39.  Travis Kvapil       BK Toyota                    27.193s  + 1.250s
40.  Jason Leffler       Humphrey Smith Toyota        27.412s  + 1.469s
41.  Timmy Hill          FAS Lane Ford                27.704s  + 1.761s
42.  Dave Blaney         Baldwin Chevrolet            27.974s  + 2.031s
43.  Joe Nemechek        NEMCO Toyota                 27.678s  + 1.735s

Did not qualify:

     JJ Yeley            Max Q Chevrolet              28.334s  + 2.391s
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