By AMANDA VINCENT
Denny Hamlin claimed the pole for the last race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Series season on Friday when he turned in a lap of 30.568 seconds/176.655 mph in the third and final round of qualifying at Homestead-Miami Speedway for Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400. It’s Hamlin’s first-career pole at Homestead.
“Definitely wish we had a little bit more to race for, but you’ve got a great trophy at the end of this thing, so proud of this whole FedEx Ground team for giving me a fast car,” Hamlin said. “It’s been fast all day, so to run our fastest lap in the last session means it’s a good sign.”
Hamlin will be joined on the front row by Joey Logano.
With Hamlin and Logano already eliminated from the Chase for the Sprint Cup in earlier rounds, Kyle Busch was the highest-qualifier from among the Championship Four who’ll battle for the 2015 Sprint Cup on Sunday. Busch qualified third.
“That’s a really good run for this M&Ms Crispy Camry,” Busch said. “Adam (Stevens, crew chief) did a really good job with getting the best option for us in qualifying here. Those are some good company to follow right there with the 11 (Hamlin) on the pole. He’s, obviously, one of the best here, and I’ve leaned on him a lot this week and we’ll continue to do so here through practice tomorrow.”
Two of the other three Championship Four advanced to the final round to claim top-12 spots on Sunday’s starting grid — Jeff Gordon fifth and and Martin Truex Jr. 11th. The one remaining championship contender failing to get to the final round barely missed round three, as Kevin Harvick wound up 13th in round two, and as a result, will start the race 13th.
Here is the complete starting grid for the Ford EcoBoost 400:
Row 1 — Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota), Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford)
Row 2 — Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota), Ryan Newman (No. 31 Chevrolet)
Row 3 — Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Chevrolet), Ryan Blaney (No. 21 Ford)
Row 4 — Carl Edwards (No. 19 Toyota), Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford)
Row 5 — Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Chevrolet), Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet)
Row 6 — Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Chevrolet), Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet)
Row 7 — Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Chevrolet), Aric Almirola (No. 43 Ford)
Row 8 — Kurt Busch (No. 41 Chevrolet), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford)
Row 9 — Paul Menard (No. 27 Chevrolet), Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Chevrolet)
Row 10 — Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Toyota), A.J. Allmendinger (No. 47 Chevrolet)
Row 11 — Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ford), Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet)
Row 12 — Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet), Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Toyota)
Row 13 — Ty Dillon (No. 33 Chevrolet), Trevor Bayne (No. 6 Ford)
Row 14 — Casey Mears (No. 13 Chevrolet), Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 9 Ford)
Row 15 — Michael McDowell (No. 95 Ford), Justin Allgaier (No. 51 Chevrolet)
Row 16 — J.J. Yeley (No. 26 Toyota), Josh Wise (No. 32 Ford)
Row 17 — Alex Bowman (No. 7 Chevrolet), Landon Cassill (No. 40 Chevrolet)
Row 18 — Danica Patrick (No. 10 Chevrolet), Tony Stewart (No. 14 Chevrolet)
Row 20 — Michael Annett (No. 46 Chevrolet), Cole Whitt (No. 35 Ford)
Row 21 — David Gilliland (No. 38 Ford), Brett Moffitt (No. 34 Ford)
Row 22 — Ryan Preece (No. 98 Chevrolet)
DNQ (did not qualify): Jeb Burton, Reed Sorenson
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