Current points leader JIMMIE JOHNSON/No.48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet is on pole at Phoenix International Raceway for Sunday afternoon’s- NASCAR Sprint Cup Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Race. His lap of 26.721/134.725 mph didn’t break the existing qualifying track record of 26.499/135.854 mph set by RYAN NEWMAN in November of 2004.

In order for Johnson to leave this weekend all but clinching the championship he has to gain 56 points, to get 162 points ahead of charging contender, CARL EDWARDS/No.99 Roush-Fenway Racing Ford.

Edwards qualified sixteenth.

If Johnson has his perfect weekend at PIR, then all he has to do is start the last race at Homestead Miami Speedway and he will be the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion. Johnson was fastest in the Friday noon practice.

Johnson said “Just a great lap for us.  I think everybody watched the television broadcast and heard from drivers that the vision getting into (turn) one was really the toughest thing. Once my eyes adjusted I was on the line, had a good angle pointed in the car and knew that I hit it right and then just went down into three and four and put together a tidy corner.”

The media has made much this weekend of the fact that there have been only 12 different Sprint Cup winners this year – one of the lowest figures in the past ten years. One driver had an answer – JEFF BURTON/No.31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet said “I think it’s important to note that with the Car of Tomorrow, there is a dynamic that’s been going on the last 18 months of learning the car and understanding how to use the car. When you figure that out, you have a distinct advantage, as always, in Motorsports. But I think the longer we have the car, more people are going to have opportunity to be successful. Short term, my fear of the Car of Tomorrow is actually less competition because anytime you do something new, some people hit it and some people don’t.

“Long-term though, I think the Car of Tomorrow has the potential to created even more opportunity for more people to win. So I think that’s what we’re seeing and why that number is lower, is I just think it’s a component of the Car of Tomorrow although I do believe long-term, the Car of Tomorrow will present more opportunity for more people to win.”

As for his chances in The Chase, 4th place Burton said “We’re not done until we’re done.”