Denny Hamlin captures the pole for Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead
Under clear South Florida skies, Denny Hamlin captured the pole for Sunday’s season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The 10th and final race for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will determine this year’s champion from four drivers who are still in the hunt.
Hamlin, who was in title contention last year but is not this time out, lapped the 1.5-mile South Florida track at 176.655 miles per hour in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, tops in the 43-car field. It was the third pole of the year for Hamlin and the 23rd of his career in 362 career starts.
“It’s kind of bittersweet, knowing that the Chase always seems to set up for me,” said Hamlin. “… I’d still like to win (the race), no doubt about it. Trust me, it’s a little bit more relaxing this time around, but I’d definitely trade my position with any one of those four guys.”
Qualifying second was Joey Logano, who ran 176.263 mph in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford. Logano was followed by Kyle Busch in a second JGR Toyota. Rounding out the top five were Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon.
“Not quite fast enough,” said Logano, who will start on the outside of Round 1. “… Proud of what my team was able to do, just wish we were a little faster in the final round.”
Kevin Harvick, Gordon, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. are the four drivers left in contention for the Sprint Cup championship. Whichever one of the four drivers has the best finish on Sunday will be the series champion for 2015.
Harvick was the only championship contender who failed to make it to the third and final round in time trials. He qualified 13th in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, the first driver to miss the pole round. Truex wound up 11th.
Harvick’s teammate, Danica Patrick, qualified 35th, one position ahead of her boss, Tony Stewart.
Jeb Burton and Reed Sorenson were the two drivers who failed to qualify.