The Norman Transcript

National Sports

November 10, 2012

Busch earns pole

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Brad Keselowski isn’t rolling over for Jimmie Johnson, not with two races to go in their championship battle and not at Phoenix International Raceway.

Keselowski outqualified Johnson by 10 positions Friday at one of the five-time NASCAR champion’s best race tracks.

It was an unusual twist for the top two contenders, as Johnson is typically the better qualifier and Keselowski has struggled in that area through the first eight races of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

And there should be no question which driver would be in control at Phoenix, where Johnson is a four-time winner and has a 5.3 average finish and Keselowski has only one career top-five.

But when the qualifying session was over, Keselowski had locked down the 14th starting spot for Sunday’s race, while Johnson was in 24th. It’s the lowest qualifying position for Johnson in a Chase race since the 2010 opener at New Hampshire, and his worst this season since the August Bristol race.

“Wasn’t so good, but we’ve been fighting a little bit in qualifying trim,” Johnson said. “But, we’ve got a great baseline race setup to go off.”

Johnson struggled with the sun glare in the first turn.

“The glare was pretty bad getting into the turn, then getting the power down was tough for me up off of two,” he said. “Three and four were pretty good, I felt like on both of my laps, but I struggled oddly enough down there this time.”

Johnson moved into the points lead with his win at Martinsville two weeks ago, and widened the margin to seven points with a second-straight victory last week at Texas.

But Keselowski is eager to reclaim the top spot he held down for five weeks of the Chase, and knows how to get it back.

“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.”

Neither championship contender was near the front of the field, where Kyle Busch set a track record in winning the pole.

For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
National Sports
  • Bucks owner Herb Kohl reaches deal to sell team

    MILWAUKEE — Bucks owner Herb Kohl has reached a deal to sell the franchise to New York investment firm executives Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens for about $550 million....

    April 17, 2014

  • Hopes high for Negro League stadium comeback

    PATERSON, N.J. — The light touch of a paint roller is enough to dislodge a chunk of plaster from the crumbling walls of Hinchliffe Stadium. Though silent for decades, the former home of several Negro League teams is getting another chance ...

    April 17, 2014

  • Ryu takes early lead in LPGA LOTTE

    KAPOLEI, Hawaii — So Yeon Ryu shot a 4-under 68 on Wednesday to take the lead halfway through a windy first round of the LPGA LOTTE Championship. Japan’s Ayako Uehara was one stroke back....

    April 17, 2014

  • Captain Tom teeing it up at RBC Heritage

    HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — Tom Watson wants to take a closer look at American prospects for the Ryder Cup, so the U.S. captain is playing in the RBC Heritage this week....

    April 17, 2014

  • Rangers rally past Mariners

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Leonys Martin had a game-winning RBI single in the ninth inning as the Texas Rangers scored two unearned runs in a two-out rally against Fernando Rodney, beating the Seattle Mariners 3-2 on Wednesday night in a game that ...

    April 17, 2014

  • Joe Kelly hurt as Brewers top Cards

    MILWAUKEE — The St. Louis Cardinals’ 5-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday may prove more costly than one defeat in the NL Central standings....

    April 17, 2014

  • Cards pitching shuts down Brewers again

    MILWAUKEE — Shelby Miller struck out seven and allowed three hits over six innings, and Mark Ellis had two RBIs in his return from the disabled list to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 6-1 win Tuesday night over the Milwaukee Brewers. ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Commissioner calls replay start ‘remarkable’

    NEW YORK — Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig says the sport’s new replay system is working well despite a few problems during its first two weeks....

    April 16, 2014

  • Fielder finally goes deep as Rangers shut out Mariners

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Prince Fielder and Kevin Kouzmanoff hit back-to-back homers, Robbie Ross limited Seattle to five singles in seven-plus innings and the Texas Rangers beat the Mariners 5-0 Tuesday night....

    April 16, 2014

  • Warriors trying to move on without Bogut

    OAKLAND, Calif. — Go small or go home....

    April 16, 2014