AVONDALE, Ariz. – AJ Allmendinger has earned his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole.
Allmendinger ran a lap at 134.675 mph Friday in the Richard Petty-owned No. 43 Ford at Phoenix International Speedway. He will start on the front row Saturday with Scott Speed, who is part of the Red Bull team for which Allmendinger used to drive.
Sprint Cup points leader Jimmie Johnson, who has won four of the last five races at Phoenix, qualified 16th.
Denny Hamlin qualified 26th for his first race since surgery March 31 to repair a torn ACL in his left knee. He will start the race, but Casey Mears is standing by to take over if needed during the 375-lap race on the mile track.