Kyle Busch wins pole, but all eyes on Johnson, Keselowski

Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012

All eyes at the start of Sunday’s AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway will be on Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski.

You won’t find them on the front row, however.

That’s reserved for Toyota drivers Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., who will start the race first and second, respectively.

Busch won the pole Friday with a track-record lap at 138.766 mph, knocking Truex off the top spot as the final car to make an attempt. Carl Edwards held the previous record (137.239 mph set Feb. 27, 2011).

The pole is Busch’s second of the season and 10th of his career.

“That was a really fast lap. I’m looking forward to the race this weekend.,” said Busch, who has scored the fifth-most points so far in the Chase even though he did not qualify to compete for the title.

“It’s important for anyone to get a win, whether you’re in the Chase or a guy battling third or fourth in points. We’ve shown speed this year and we’ve shown we can run up front.

“What we haven’t done is we just haven’t shown consistency in our finishes.”

While Busch is looking to add wins to finish the season, the Sprint Cup Series championship battle will begin far deeper in the field.

Johnson leads Keselowski by seven points entering this weekend’s race but Keselowski will start 14th on Sunday while Johnson will line up 24th – his worst start in 11 races.

Track position – while important everywhere – is critical at Phoenix, a one-mile slightly-banked oval.

“It’s very challenging to get through traffic but no more so than Martinsville and those places,” Keselowski said. “I think we saw Denny Hamlin go to the back twice and drive to the front and that was supposed to be a place you couldn’t pass.

“If you’re good, you find a way.”

Asked if he raced the race track or race Johnson on Sunday, Keselowski laughed.

“I’m running to win, whatever that means,” he said. “Win the race and things become a lot easier. You don’t have to worry about those things.”

Johnson sure hopes so.

“That wasn’t so good, but we’ve been fighting a little bit in qualifying trim. But, we’ve got a great baseline race set-up to go off of,” Johnson said. “For me it was really Turn 1. The glare was pretty bad getting into the turn then getting the power down was tough for me up off of (Turn) 2.

“Turns 3 and 4 were pretty good I felt like on both of my laps, but I struggled oddly enough down there this time.”

Busch’s teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, Denny Hamlin, qualified third. Kasey Kahne was fourth and Aric Almirola fifth.

Former IndyCar Series fan favorite Danica Patrick, making her final Cup start of her 10-race schedule this season, was 37th-fastest.

“It was pretty edgy especially coming to the green,” Patrick said of her qualifying lap. “It stuck way out and I couldn’t turn the wheel so I ended up pretty wide and I wasn’t sure if I was going to have enough grip to stay out of the wall or not coming to the green.”

1.18Kyle BuschToyota138.766
2.56Martin Truex, Jr..Toyota138.217
3.11Denny HamlinToyota137.578
4.5Kasey KahneChevy137.478
5.43Aric AlmirolaFord137.211
6.78Kurt BuschChevy137.007
7.27Paul MenardChevy136.992
8.51Regan SmithChevy136.872
9.14Tony StewartChevy136.867
10.55Mark MartinToyota136.867
11.24Jeff GordonChevy136.830
12.39Ryan NewmanChevy136.721
13.99Carl EdwardsFord136.679
14.2Brad KeselowskiDodge136.622
15.20Joey LoganoToyota136.488
16.15Clint BowyerToyota136.436
17.9Marcos AmbroseFord136.358
18.1Jamie McMurrayChevy136.353
19.29Kevin HarvickChevy136.271
20.16Greg BiffleFord136.219
21.42Juan Pablo MontoyaChevy136.003
22.17Matt KensethFord135.905
23.88Dale Earnhardt, Jr..Chevy135.547
24.48Jimmie JohnsonChevy135.44
25.13Casey MearsFord135.211
26.22Sam Hornish, Jr..Dodge135.171
27.83Landon CassillToyota134.948
28.98Michael McDowellFord134.948
29.34David RaganFord134.933
30.47Bobby LabonteToyota134.449
31.38David GillilandFord134.373
32.30David StremmeToyota134.343
33.31Jeff BurtonChevy134.198
34.44David ReutimannFord134.008
35.33Stephen LeichtChevy133.620
36.19Mike BlissToyota133.576
37.10Danica PatrickChevy132.954
38.26Josh WiseFord132.817
39.93Travis KvapilToyota132.387
40.91Jason LefflerChevy131.329
41.32Timmy HillFord129.945
42.36Dave BlaneyChevyOwnPts
43.87Joe NemechekToyota130.067

Did not qualify: J.J. Yeley

Utter: 704-358-5113

More racing news, blogs, photos and more at