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Johnson captures Texas pole, Keselowski qualifies eighth

Sprint Cup Series points leader Jimmie Johnson claimed his second consecutive pole by winning Friday's qualifying for the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Johnson, who holds just a two-point lead over Brad Keselowski with three races to go in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, turned a lap at 191.076 mph for his fourth pole of the season and the 29th of his Sprint Cup career. He started on the pole and won last Sunday's 500-lap race at Martinsville Speedway.

"I knew it was going to be a challenging lap, and I went in there committed," said Johnson, who earned his first pole in 19 races at Texas. "I drove probably the most exciting lap I've had in a long, long time, and I brought it around for the pole, so I'm very pleased."

Struggling in the lone practice session earlier in the day, Johnson was the 20th driver to go out in the 46-car qualifying field at this fast 1.5-mile racetrack.

"We didn't unload like we wanted to, and the track was so fast during the first 15 minutes (of practice) that we missed an opportunity to really post a time," he said. "As practice went on, we improved the car, and the pace moved up a lot. So we thought we were in contention, but I think that surprised all of us a little bit."

Johnson has one win at Texas, which came in Nov. 2007. The last time he won back-to-back races was in June 2010 -- Sonoma, Calif. and Loudon, N.H.

When the series most recently competed at Texas in April, Johnson led a race- high 156 laps but finished second to Greg Biffle.

Johnson's qualifying lap was 0.103 seconds quicker than Biffle, who will start on the outside pole.

"I just didn't have enough commitment to push the gas down and hold it, but the 48 (Johnson) did," Biffle said.

Kyle Busch qualified third, while Michael Waltrip Racing drivers Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. took the fourth and fifth spots, respectively. Truex posted the fastest lap in practice.

Joey Logano, Trevor Bayne, Keselowski, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth completed the top-10. Keselowski's eighth-place result was a huge improvement from his qualifying finish of 32nd one week ago at Martinsville.

"It might not be the pole, but it feels like a pole for us," Keselowski said after his qualifying run at Texas. "Our car has had a ton of speed in race trim since we've been here, but qualifying trim has been our weakness all year. I think that bodes very well for us come Sunday."

Bowyer is currently 26 points behind Johnson, while Johnson's teammate, Kasey Kahne, trails by 29. Kahne qualified 13th.

Stephen Leicht, Kelly Bires and David Stremme failed to qualify.

Sunday's 500-mile race at Texas is scheduled to start just after 3 p.m. (ET).