Friday, November 8, 2013

Jimmie Johnson fastest in first Phoenix practice session and qualifying

Jimmie Johnson is the 1-to-5 favorite to win Sprint Cup
AVONDALE, Ariz. — Matt Kenseth is feeling good about his car for the Sprint Cup Series race Sunday even though he’s starting 14th on the grid at Phoenix International Raceway.

The only problem? Jimmie Johnson is feeling great.

Johnson, who leads Kenseth by seven points in the standings, won the pole Friday for the next-to-last race of the season with a track-record lap of 139.222 mph around the 1-mile oval.

“We did ourselves a lot of favors here today by getting the pole, having that first pit stall (for easy exit) and track position to start the race with,” Johnson said.

“We still have to go out there and get to work to get the job done on Sunday.”

Kenseth didn’t do himself many favors, but he had a better Joe Gibbs Racing car in practice Friday than where he qualified. Teams will have two practices Saturday to prepare for the 312-lap race Sunday.

“This track in the spring was extremely hard to pass at — probably one of the toughest tracks that we go to, and I don’t know if it will be any better or not this time,” Kenseth said.

Kenseth said he will need to get his car working well in order to catch Johnson because he doesn’t believe he’ll be able to use pit strategy — such as taking two tires when everyone else takes four — in order to gain track position.

“Unless you have the cautions fall funny, I don’t know if you’ll be able to do it on pit strategy,” Kenseth said. “You’re going to have to have a good balance, good speed, you have to be able to pass, have to have good pit stops — all those things.

“I don’t feel it’s a track where you’re going to get a whole bunch of free (positions) from a strategy call. I think you’re going to have to be good all day.”

Read More here....Sporting News

Starting Lineup

Practice 1 Speeds

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