Martin Truex Jr. edges Kyle Larson for Phoenix pole

It didn’t take long for Martin Truex Jr. to serve up a reminder of his dominating 2017 championship season.

Martin Truex Jr. edges Kyle Larson for Phoenix pole
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing, Toyota Camry 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing, Toyota Camry 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry Skittles Sweet Heat
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Credit One Bank
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Jimmy John's

Truex blasted to the top of the leaderboard Friday in the final round of knockout qualifying to claim the pole for Sunday’s TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway near Phoenix.

Truex’s average lap speed of 136.945 mph was the fastest recorded by any Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver throughout the day.

Kyle Larson ended up second (136.643 mph), Chase Elliott third, Alex Bowman fourth and Joey Logano completed the top five.

Completing the Top 12: Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray, Erik Jones, Kevin Harvick, William Byron and Ryan Blaney.

The pole is the first of the season for Truex, the 16th of his career and second at Phoenix. His last pole at Phoenix came in the 2009 season.

“I did get a little loose getting in there (Turn 3) and thought for a second maybe I screwed up, but I caught the brake and caught the front grip just enough to keep it off the seam in the middle of the corner,” Truex said.

“Hats off to the guys. They’ve done a great job today. We had a good game plan. We’ve qualified well here in the past but we’ve been searching for those last couple of spots. We were fifth here in the fall.

“Good execution and a fun day today.”

Round 2

Larson, who was fastest in Friday’s lone practice session, edged out a pair of Hendrick Motorsports teammates in the 10-minute second qualifying session.

Larson’s average lap speed of 136.364 mph just edged Elliott (136.333 mph). Bowman was third, Hamlin fourth and Kyle Busch completed the top-five.

Also advancing to the final round of knockout qualifying: Truex, Jones, McMurray, Logano, Harvick, Blaney and Byron, who broke into the Top 12 just before the conclusion of the session.

Among those who failed to advance to the final round were: Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, Paul Menard, Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch and Austin Dillon.

Johnson’s starting position (17th) was a surprise considering he was fastest in Round 1.

“I kind of look back to the amount of practice we had,” Johnson said. “I never had a chance to go out on scuff tires to see what kind of adjustments we needed to make. But we have a fast car for Sunday.”

Johnson missed the final 30 minutes of practice Friday because his No. 48 twice failed pre-race inspection prior to last weekend’s race at Las Vegas.

Round 1

Johnson bolted to the top of the leaderboard late in the first 15-minute session with an average lap speed of 135.624 mph.

Johnson supplanted Jones (135.069 mph), who held the spot for the first 10 minutes.

Elliott was third-fastest, Hamlin fourth and Kyle Busch completed the top-five.

Both Chris Buescher and Kurt Busch made late-session runs in an attempt to advance to Round 2 and both were successful.

Among those who failed to advance were Kasey Kahne, Brad Keselowski, Darrell Wallace Jr., Ty Dillon and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Stenhouse wrecked his primary car on his first lap of practice on Friday. Because of using a backup car, Stenhouse was going to have to start Sunday’s race from the rear of the field regardless.

“We’re ready to come from the back on Sunday,” he said.

Jeffrey Earnhardt slammed the wall in Turn 3 early in the session, doing damage to the right-front area of his No. 00 Chevrolet. That brought out a red flag to briefly bring the session to a halt.

“Just locked up the front tires. It sucks. Not the way we wanted to start the weekend,” Earnhardt said.

Both Trevor Bayne and D.J. Kennington were in the middle of attempting their qualifying laps when the incident aborted their runs. The both had to cool their engines on pit road before beginning another attempt.

All cars passed pre-qualifying inspection prior to the start of the first session.

Cla#DriverManufacturerTimeGapMph
1 78 united_states Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 26.288   136.945
2 42 united_states Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 26.346 0.058 136.643
3 9 united_states Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 26.446 0.158 136.126
4 88 united_states Alex Bowman  Chevrolet 26.455 0.167 136.080
5 22 united_states Joey Logano  Ford 26.481 0.193 135.947
6 11 united_states Denny Hamlin  Toyota 26.490 0.202 135.900
7 18 united_states Kyle Busch  Toyota 26.496 0.208 135.870
8 1 united_states Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 26.497 0.209 135.864
9 20 united_states Erik Jones  Toyota 26.504 0.216 135.829
10 4 united_states Kevin Harvick  Ford 26.564 0.276 135.522
11 24 united_states William Byron  Chevrolet 26.708 0.420 134.791
12 12 united_states Ryan Blaney  Ford 26.711 0.423 134.776
13 31 united_states Ryan Newman  Chevrolet 26.615 0.327 135.262
14 21 united_states Paul Menard  Ford 26.631 0.343 135.181
15 19 mexico Daniel Suarez  Toyota 26.652 0.364 135.074
16 38 united_states David Ragan  Ford 26.664 0.376 135.014
17 48 united_states Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 26.665 0.377 135.008
18 3 united_states Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 26.667 0.379 134.998
19 14 united_states Clint Bowyer  Ford 26.726 0.438 134.700
20 47 united_states A.J. Allmendinger  Chevrolet 26.809 0.521 134.283
21 6 united_states Trevor Bayne  Ford 26.818 0.530 134.238
22 10 united_states Aric Almirola  Ford 26.850 0.562 134.078
23 41 united_states Kurt Busch  Ford 26.913 0.625 133.764
24 37 united_states Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 26.953 0.665 133.566
25 2 united_states Brad Keselowski  Ford 27.012 0.724 133.274
26 95 united_states Kasey Kahne  Chevrolet 27.024 0.736 133.215
27 43 united_states Darrell Wallace Jr.  Chevrolet 27.057 0.769 133.052
28 13 united_states Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 27.065 0.777 133.013
29 17 united_states Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 27.084 0.796 132.920
30 32 united_states Matt DiBenedetto  Ford 27.150 0.862 132.597
31 34 united_states Michael McDowell  Ford 27.305 1.017 131.844
32 23 united_states Gray Gaulding  Toyota 27.542 1.254 130.709
33 72 united_states Corey Lajoie  Chevrolet 27.612 1.324 130.378
34 96 canada D.J. Kennington  Toyota 27.757 1.469 129.697
35 51 united_states Timmy Hill  Chevrolet 27.931 1.643 128.889
36 15 united_states Ross Chastain  Chevrolet 28.004 1.716 128.553
37 00 united_states Jeffrey Earnhardt  Chevrolet 0.000   0.000
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