The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is heading into its final two races, and Jimmie Johnson is making the most of it.
During Friday’s Advocare 500 qualifying session, Johnson won the pole for Sunday’s race when he posted a qualifying lap of 132.222 mph in 25.858 seconds. The pole win on Friday is Johnson’s third of the 2013 season. Joining Johnson on the front row will be Denny Hamlin. Joey Logano qualified in third, followed by Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon to close out the top five. Matt Kenseth, who sits in second at seven points behind Johnson in the standings, qualified 14th.
Heading into Phoenix, all eyes will be on Johnson and Kenseth as they are the top two drivers in the championship chase. With the being only seven points apart, the tight championship battle will be one to follow especially considering that Phoenix is the second-to-last race of the year.
Both Johnson and Kenseth have been the most dominant drivers all season long, and any mistake by either driver could spoil their championship hopes before reaching the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Last year, Johnson went into Phoenix with a similar points lead over current Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski. Some trouble at Phoenix set Johnson back, and Keselowski ended up winning the title at Homestead. It could all depend on Johnson to have a mistake-free race if he wants to get closer to title no. 6.
The race at Phoenix will also mark the anniversary of last year’s fall race that ended with drama involving Gordon and Clint Bowyer. Phoenix will also set up similar storylines heading into the final race of the year.