Jimmie Johnson won the pole Friday for the penultimate race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, moving him a step closer to his sixth NASCAR championship.
The five-time NASCAR champion set a track record with a lap of 139.222 mph in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet to earn the top starting spot for Sunday’s race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz. The lap broke the mark of 138.766 set by Kyle Busch last November.
“Track records are awesome,” Johnson said. “I don’t qualify on the pole all that often, so I take great pride in them, especially track records.”
Matt Kenseth will start 14th. Kenseth trails Johnson by seven points with two races left. Denny Hamlin qualified second.
Martin: No plans to race
Mark Martin he has no plans to race beyond next week’s season finale. But the 54-year-old shied away from announcing an official retirement when discussing his NASCAR future.
Martin plans to work in an undefined role with Stewart-Haas Racing, which for now calls for him to test the No. 14 Chevrolet until injured driver Tony Stewart, sidelined with a broken leg, can race again.
Martin has 40 career wins.
Jones youngest winner
Erik Jones became the youngest winner in Truck Series history with his first career NASCAR national victory, and Matt Crafton finished fifth at Phoenix to make the season championship a formality next week.
Crafton needs only to start in the season finale at Homestead to seal his first series title after eliminating all other contenders Friday.
Jones won at 17 years, 4 months to break the record set this year by Chase Elliott, who was five months older when he won.