By Michael Guzman
Homestead, FL — Denny Hamlin nabbed the pole for Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, topping fellow Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. after time expired in Friday night’s final session.
Truex Jr. topped all four drivers competing for a title and will start Sunday’s race from the second position. Kyle Busch qualified third and has been chasing Truex Jr. Friday for bragging rights as the class of the field thus far.
Brad Keselowski narrowly made it to the final round of knockout qualifying, but posted the fifth-fastest lap of the final session despite battling brake issues throughout the day. The Penske driver actually tied Chip Ganassi Racing’s Jamie McMurray with an average speed of 172.403 MPH in the second round of qualifying, but bested McMurray on the time sheet.
Kevin Harvick could not match his speed in practice, and battled handling issues en route to a ninth place qualifying run.
They Said It:
Martin Truex Jr. (Starting 2nd)
“You always want to be the fastest no matter what it is. We won today, but again it doesn’t really mean a whole lot. It’d be nice to win again (in practice) tomorrow and win again on Sunday. That’s what we’re here for.”
Kyle Busch (Starting 3rd)
“(I) had an opportunity to beat (Truex Jr.) and go for the pole, and trying to cut my turn 1 entry a little bit I got to the bottom too soon, hit the apron, messed up the exit for 2. Felt like I had to get a little bit more back in 3 and 4 than I needed to and probably messed up down there…
We’ll work on it and work on myself for making sure that we can hit some perfect laps tomorrow and really focus on what we need to do for the race.”
Brad Keselowski (Starting 5th)
“I thought we could qualify somewhere from fifth to 10th. I think in that first round, we might have been eighth or ninth. The second round was a little disappointing. We were 12th and just barely got in. Third round was probably top of the spectrum…
First practice is complete at @HomesteadMiami.
— Team Penske (@Team_Penske) November 17, 2017
We haven’t resolved (the brake issues) yet. We’ll keep working on it. It’s certainly a concern for us at this moment.”
Kevin Harvick (Starting 9th)
“It was definitely sideways, but I just – I don’t know if I tried to roll a little too much speed, I was pretty confident that it was going to turn to the bottom. It kept turning, but the back wanted to go the other way. It was just one of those things where you’re trying to get that (30.90 second lap) and the .90 was a little too far and just wound up messing the whole lap up. Just one of those moments.”
- Toyota took the top four spots, with the Fords of Keselowski and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. following up in fifth and sixth. Kyle Larson was the top Chevy in seventh place.
- Matt Kenseth will start his final race fourth after showing speed throughout the first day.
- Chase Elliott, who could not come through with a dramatic victory last week in Phoenix, will start 18th.
- Danica Patrick will start her penultimate NASCAR race 25th, failing to escape the first round of knockout qualifying.
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start his final race from the tail end of the field after an engine change relegated the Hendrick Motorsports driver to the rear. Earnhardt ran one lap, and was 24th fastest overall in the first session.
We chose not to put additional wear on our tires in qualifying. We have to start last no matter what because of the engine change this morning. @nascar encourages us to make an attempt (and we did) or to be honest we wouldn’t run any laps at all.
— Ralph Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) November 17, 2017