NASCAR: Jimmie Johnson wins second pole in a row

Jimmie Johnson turned up the heat on his competition winning the pole at Phoenix International Raceway. Denny Hamlin will start second and Joey Logano third. It was Johnson’s second pole in-a-row.

Matt Kenseth, who is in second place in the standings seven points behind Johnson, will start 14th.

Going out almost last in single car qualifying the five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion, who was also fastest in practice, took advantage of the cooler track temperatures to turn a lap of 139.222 mph around the one-mile flat oval.

“Did the draw help? “It didn’t hurt going out late,” Johnson said of the time of day of his qualifying lap.

His antagonists all referred to the success that Johnson’s team has in the 10-race Chase over all others.

Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, NASCAR, Phoenix

Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth’s cars (Photo: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

When asked about how his No. 48 seems to raise their performance at this critical time of the year Johnson replied. “I don’t feel I’m doing anything different, we’re doing the same stuff. It’s not a concerted effort we’re not doing anything different.”

“Today was a pretty big struggle the qualifying run was a bit of a surprised,” Hamlin who challenged Johnson for the title in 2010 said. “I felt we made some big strides.” Hamlin who turned a lap of 139.023mph.

When asked how Johnson’s team was handling the pressure of the Chase (NASCAR’s playoffs) Hamlin replied “it shows a lot of strength, that’s the easy answer. Everyone knows they can turn it up at will especially for the championship.”

“Matt needs a few things to go this way,” Hamlin said of Sunday’s race.

“Anything can happen but Matt is going to have to (come out strong) and beat him (Johnson) at Homestead.”

Logano, in his first Chase, who drives a Ford for Roger Penske said “seems like the 48 (Johnson) is in kill mode. He’s beating us by a bigger amount (in the closing races).”

Kenseth took his qualifying lap in stride “just really didn’t have a good lap,” he said didn’t really do what we were hoping to do. The good news is we’ve got all day tomorrow to get it driving better. Hopefully, we’ll be able to work our way to the front and get it driving good in race-trim where it really counts.”

Speaking of his rival (Kenseth) Johnson added the win and continued points lead is not guaranteed “we have to get our adjustments right and have a flawless race on Sunday.”

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