NASCAR Homestead: Hamlin on pole, three title contenders in top five
|By Jack Benyon||Saturday, November 17th 2018, 00:22 GMT|
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.
|1||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|2||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|3||Martin Truex Jr.||Furniture Row Racing||Toyota|
|4||Brad Keselowski||Team Penske||Ford|
|5||Joey Logano||Team Penske||Ford|
|6||Kurt Busch||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford|
|7||Erik Jones||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|8||Ryan Newman||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet|
|9||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford|
|10||Aric Almirola||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford|
|11||Kyle Larson||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet|
|12||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford|
|13||Alex Bowman||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|14||Chase Elliott||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|15||Ryan Blaney||Team Penske||Ford|
|16||Austin Dillon||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet|
|17||Matt Kenseth||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford|
|18||Daniel Suarez||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|19||Jimmie Johnson||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|20||A.J. Allmendinger||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevrolet|
|21||Jamie McMurray||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet|
|22||Paul Menard||Wood Brothers Racing||Ford|
|23||Darrell Wallace Jr.||Richard Petty Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|24||Michael McDowell||Front Row Motorsports||Ford|
|25||David Ragan||Front Row Motorsports||Ford|
|26||Clint Bowyer||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford|
|27||Chris Buescher||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevrolet|
|28||William Byron||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|29||Matt DiBenedetto||Go FAS Racing||Ford|
|30||Regan Smith||Leavine Family Racing||Chevrolet|
|31||Ty Dillon||Germain Racing||Chevrolet|
|32||Landon Cassill||StarCom Racing||Chevrolet|
|33||J.J. Yeley||BK Racing||Ford|
|34||Corey LaJoie||TriStar Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|35||Kyle Weatherman||StarCom Racing||Chevrolet|
|36||B.J. McLeod||Rick Ware Racing||Ford|
|37||Tanner Berryhill||Obaika Racing||Toyota|
|38||Timmy Hill||MBM Motorsports||Toyota|
|39||Ross Chastain||Premium Motorsports||Chevrolet|