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NASCAR Cup: Denny Hamlin on pole for season-finale at Homestead

Denny Hamlin claims the pole for the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 17, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

Denny Hamlin claims the pole for the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 17, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

By AMANDA VINCENT

A week after his elimination from the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, Denny Hamlin claimed his second pole of the season and the second of his career at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday, posting a 31.038-second/173.980 mph lap in the third of three rounds of qualifying to garner the first starting spot for Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400, the final race of the 2017 season.

“Our FedEx Camry was, obviously, very fast that last run,” Hamlin said. “I love this race track and wish we would have our chance, but that will be another day, another year for us.”

Hamlin’s pole winning run came in the final seconds of the final round of qualifying, knocking remaining playoff contender Martin Truex Jr. from the provisional pole. Truex, after posting the fastest laps in the other two rounds of qualifying, will start second next to Hamlin on the front row for Sunday’s race.

“It was a good day, overall, that was a bit dramatic,” Truex said. “We missed it a little bit that last round and lost more grip than I anticipated. We made some adjustments and knew it was going to go that way, but just not far enough. I can’t say enough about this group, just a really strong day – five one-thousandths away from it being a perfect day. Just proud of everyone, and they did what they needed to do today, and we’ll get to work tomorrow.”

Truex’s 30.743-second/175.650 mph lap in the opening round was the fastest lap, overall, of the qualifying session.

Throughout the three-round qualifying session, three of the Championship Four drivers were in the top-five on the speed chart, with Brad Keselowski being the only one of the four outside the top-five in the first two rounds. In the final round, though, Keselowski ran faster than Kevin Harvick, and Harvick wound up outside the top-five, qualifying ninth.

“Just about spun out there going into turn one,” Harvick said. “I don’t know if I just tried to roll a little too much speed. Got the car sliding and missed the whole corner. They did a good job trying to get it back out. I thought we were going to make it back out. Yeah, just missed the lap there and got it loose and wound up ninth. Good thing is it’s ninth; it’s not 39th, and there’s nobody in the first pit box.”

Keselowski qualified fifth to join fellow-Championship Four drivers Hamlin and Kyle Busch inside the top-five.

“It is a decent effort, position wise,” Keselowski said. “These races are so long that where you start isn’t always super important, but getting a decent pit selection, as qualifying does for you, not a bad thing. There’s a half a dozen good pit stalls, and we able to get one of those. We don’t have a lot of tires to put on the race. When we do, we’ll have a decent position to pit from so that’s good.”

Toyota swept the front two rows of the starting grid, with Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Busch and Matt Kenseth claiming second-row starting spots in third and fourth.

Meanwhile, Chevrolet was nearly shut out of the final round of qualifying. Kyle Larson was the only Chevrolet driver to advance to the third round. He qualified seventh. Larson’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Jamie McMurray, barely missed advancing to the third round, or round of 12, tying with Keselowski on speed in round two, but Keselowski advanced by virtue of a tie-breaker.

“I think we tied with Brad right there, so a little bit unfortunate that we didn’t make it to the next round,” McMurray said.

Here’s a look at the complete starting grid for Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway:
Row 1 — Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota), Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Toyota)
Row 2 — Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota), Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Toyota)
Row 3 — Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford)
Row 4 — Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet), Kurt Busch (No. 41 Ford)
Row 5 — Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Ford), Daniel Suarez (No. 19 Toyota)
Row 6 — Ryan Blaney (No. 21 Ford), Trevor Bayne (No. 6 Ford)
Row 7 — Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet), Erik Jones (No. 77 Toyota)
Row 8 — Paul Menard (No. 27 Chevrolet), Clint Bowyer (No. 14 Ford)
Row 9 — Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet), Chase Elliott (No. 24 Chevrolet)
Row 10 — Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford), Aric Almirola (No. 43 Ford)
Row 11 — Ryan Newman (No. 31 Chevrolet), Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet)
Row 12 — Michael McDowell (No. 95 Chevrolet), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Chevrolet)
Row 13 — Danica Patrick (No. 10 Ford), A.J. Allmendinger (No. 47 Chevrolet)
Row 14 — Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Chevrolet), Landon Cassill (No. 34 Ford)
Row 15 — Chris Buescher (No. 37 Chevrolet), David Ragan (No. 38 Ford)
Row 16 — Matt DiBenedetto (No. 32 Ford), Ty Dillon (No. 13 Chevrolet)
Row 17 — Cole Whitt (No. 72 Chevrolet), Corey LaJoie (No. 23 Toyota)
Row 18 — Joey Gase (No. 83 Toyota), Jeffrey Earnhardt (No. 33 Chevrolet)
Row 19 — Reed Sorenson (No. 15 Chevrolet), David Starr (No. 66 Chevrolet)
Row 20 — Ray Black Jr. (No. 51 Chevrolet)

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Posted by on November 18, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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