AVONDALE, Ariz. – Kyle Busch set a track record en route to grabbing the pole for the AdvoCare 500 Friday in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying at Phoenix Int’l Raceway, but the real story was the poor qualifying effort of championship leader Jimmie Johnson.
Busch’s lap of 25.94 seconds at 138.766 mph gave him his second pole of the 2012 season and the 10th of his career. Martin Truex Jr. will join him on the front row. Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne and Aric Almirola completed the top five in qualifying.
“Dave (Rogers) made some really good adjustments from qualifying practice to now,” said Busch, who is seeking his second victory of the year. “We’ll take it. It’ll be a good starting spot for us. Obviously getting first pit selection and all that is good for us of course.”
Johnson, meanwhile, qualified a disappointing 24th after winning the pole at the last two Sprint Cup events. It is Johnson’s worst qualifying effort during the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. His championship rival Brad Keselowski, who is seven points behind Johnson, will start 14th on Sunday.
The go-or-go-homers that qualified for Sunday’s race were Michael McDowell, David Stremme, David Reutimann, Stephen Leicht, Mike Bliss, Josh Wise, Jason Leffler and Joe Nemechek.
J.J. Yeley was the only driver who failed to qualify.