NASCAR Phoenix: Points leader Jimmie Johnson claims pole position

NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader Jimmie Johnson will start the penultimate round of the 2013 season on pole position after topping Phoenix qualifying

NASCAR Phoenix: Points leader Jimmie Johnson claims pole position

The Hendrick Chevrolet driver lapped the one-mile circuit in 25.848s to pip Denny Hamlin in the final moments of the session.

Johnson was one of the last drivers to run but, after topping practice, continued the strong form that earned him victory and the championship lead at Texas last weekend to claim pole.

His joy was in contrast to the struggles of chief title rival Matt Kenseth, who ended the session 14th and almost three tenths of a second off the pace.

Kenseth, who trails Johnson by seven points with two rounds remaining (including Sunday's race), was the fourth driver to run but only managed to go second to Dale Earnhardt Jr before the pair tumbled out of the top 10 altogether.

The latter will line up 11th, with 2012 champion Brad Keselowski and Paul Menard between them.

Kevin Harvick, who lies third in the points, was ninth quickest. He briefly held provisional pole, before Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Hamlin each took a turn at the top of the timesheets.

Hamlin's benchmark held until Johnson emerge late on, but when he did he slotted straight into fourth on the leaderboard and then found another tenth on his second run to edge out Hamlin and claim a new qualifying track record.

Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 25.848s 2. Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Toyota 25.895s +0.047s 3. Joey Logano Penske Ford 25.910s +0.062s 4. Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Toyota 25.927s +0.079s 5. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 25.969s +0.121s 6. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota 25.975s +0.127s 7. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet 25.989s +0.141s 8. Kurt Busch Furniture Row Chevrolet 26.003s +0.155s 9. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet 26.031s +0.183s 10. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota 26.074s +0.226s 11. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 26.077s +0.229s 12. Brad Keselowski Penske Ford 26.093s +0.245s 13. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet 26.137s +0.289s 14. Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Toyota 26.143s +0.295s 15. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet 26.153s +0.305s 16. Mark Martin Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 26.199s +0.351s 17. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 26.232s +0.384s 18. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 26.240s +0.392s 19. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 26.283s +0.435s 20. Aric Almirola Petty Ford 26.288s +0.440s 21. Elliott Sadler Waltrip Toyota 26.337s +0.489s 22. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 26.339s +0.491s 23. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 26.428s +0.580s 24. Reed Sorenson Leavine Ford 26.452s +0.604s 25. Justin Allgaier Phoenix Chevrolet 26.469s +0.621s 26. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 26.478s +0.630s 27. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford 26.481s +0.633s 28. Josh Wise Front Row Ford 26.511s +0.663s 29. Cole Whitt Swan Toyota 26.526s +0.678s 30. Casey Mears Germain Ford 26.553s +0.705s 31. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota 26.588s +0.740s 32. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 26.592s +0.744s 33. David Gilliland Front Row Ford 26.603s +0.755s 34. David Ragan Front Row Ford 26.612s +0.764s 35. JJ Yeley Baldwin Chevrolet 26.645s +0.797s 36. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 26.694s +0.846s 37. David Reutimann BK Toyota 26.737s +0.889s 38. Timmy Hill FAS Lane Ford 26.760s +0.912s 39. Michael McDowell Parsons Ford 26.792s +0.944s 40. Landon Cassill Circle Sport Chevrolet 26.882s +1.034s 41. Tony Raines Hillman Chevrolet 27.261s +1.413s 42. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet 27.360s +1.512s 43. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 27.549s +1.701s 
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