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NASCAR Homestead: Hamlin on pole, three title contenders in top five

Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR Cup Homestead 2018

Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driver Denny Hamlin took pole for Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series title decider at Homestead, with Kyle Busch the highest-placed of the four title contenders in second.

Hamlin - who won this event in 2013 but is winless so far this season - set a late flying lap of 31.059s around the 1.5-mile oval to take his 30th series pole, his first since the same race in '17.

Busch set the fastest time in the first of the three separate qualifying segments in his Toyota, but could only muster second on his final lap behind his long-time team-mate Hamlin.

Reigning champion Martin Truex Jr - winner of last year's event - rounds out the top three for Furniture Row Racing ahead of Brad Keselowski's Penske Ford.

Joey Logano is the only driver of the four eligible to win the title on Sunday who has not done so before, and will start the race in fifth behind team-mate Keselowski.

Kurt Busch was the best-placed of the Stewart-Haas Ford entries in sixth - failing to add to a series-high five poles already this year - while Erik Jones made sure three Joe Gibbs Toyotas made the top seven in the order, having topped the second qualifying segment with a brilliant lap.

Ryan Newman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr and Aric Almirola round out the top 10.

The fourth title protagonist, Stewart-Haas driver Kevin Harvick, could only manage 12th and last in the Q3 segment behind Kyle Larson.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson failed to make the final 12 in his last race with long-time backers Lowes. The Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet racer will start Sunday's race from 19th.

Starting grid

1Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
2Kyle BuschJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
3Martin Truex Jr.Furniture Row RacingToyota
4Brad KeselowskiTeam PenskeFord
5Joey LoganoTeam PenskeFord
6Kurt BuschStewart-Haas RacingFord
7Erik JonesJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
8Ryan NewmanRichard Childress RacingChevrolet
9Ricky Stenhouse Jr.Roush Fenway RacingFord
10Aric AlmirolaStewart-Haas RacingFord
11Kyle LarsonChip Ganassi RacingChevrolet
12Kevin HarvickStewart-Haas RacingFord
13Alex BowmanHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
14Chase ElliottHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
15Ryan BlaneyTeam PenskeFord
16Austin DillonRichard Childress RacingChevrolet
17Matt KensethRoush Fenway RacingFord
18Daniel SuarezJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
19Jimmie JohnsonHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
20A.J. AllmendingerJTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet
21Jamie McMurrayChip Ganassi RacingChevrolet
22Paul MenardWood Brothers RacingFord
23Darrell Wallace Jr.Richard Petty MotorsportsChevrolet
24Michael McDowellFront Row MotorsportsFord
25David RaganFront Row MotorsportsFord
26Clint BowyerStewart-Haas RacingFord
27Chris BuescherJTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet
28William ByronHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
29Matt DiBenedettoGo FAS RacingFord
30Regan SmithLeavine Family RacingChevrolet
31Ty DillonGermain RacingChevrolet
32Landon CassillStarCom RacingChevrolet
33J.J. YeleyBK RacingFord
34Corey LaJoieTriStar MotorsportsChevrolet
35Kyle WeathermanStarCom RacingChevrolet
36B.J. McLeodRick Ware RacingFord
37Tanner BerryhillObaika RacingToyota
38Timmy HillMBM MotorsportsToyota
39Ross ChastainPremium MotorsportsChevrolet

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