Matt Kenseth has a little work to do to catch Jimmie Johnson on Sunday.
The driver of the No. 20 had a respectable qualifying lap and will start 14th, but Johnson, the five-time champion and man he's chasing in the points standings, took the pole with a lap of 139.222 MPH.
Of course, given the increased speeds of the new car, that was a track record.
Last week at Texas, the two started close together in third and sixth. They ended with that separation too, but Johnson netted crucial bonus points by winning the race and he's up seven on Kenseth.
And last year at Phoenix is where Johnson lost the title after he entered up seven points on Brad Keselowski. He cut a tire and smashed in the wall while Keselowski finished sixth and left with a 20 point lead.
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