Matt Kenseth claimed his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole of 2013 on Friday, taking the top starting spot for Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a lap time of 30.394 seconds.
“I’m always surprised when we’re on the pole, and I haven’t been surprised that many times in my career, so qualifying is not usually my strong suit,” Kenseth said. Today, (crew chief) Jason (Ratcliff) had a plan, and I didn’t like it. He wanted to work on qualifying the whole time, and I typically don’t like that, so I think I had him frustrated by the end of practice. I think I missed every corner of every mock-up run that I made. He did a really spectacular job today of helping me and pointing some things out and making adjustments to the car to make it do what we needed it to do.”
Championship points leader Jimmie Johnson will start Sunday’s race from the seventh position, as Kevin Harvick, the only other driver aside from Johnson and Kenseth who has a shot at claiming the Sprint Cup, starts in sixth.
“It was a difficult set of circumstances qualifying at night when you practice during the day,” Johnson said. “But I think we did a nice job adjusting the race car. We had a nice car in qualifying and a decent run.”
Kurt Busch will start alongside Kenseth on the front row after posting a second-fastest lap time of 30.432 on Friday.
“It was a great lap that the car stuck really well and gave me the confidence to get aggressive with the throttle pedal and to be able to sweep through turn two on the high side,” Busch said. “This track, we only race here once a year. You don’t know if you want to run low, middle or high in qualifying, because in practice the track is much warmer and it’s 2:00 and 3:00 in the afternoon. Then, when we qualify here at night, it’s a different game.”
Penske Racing teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski qualified third and fourth. Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-five in qualifying.
Other drivers qualifying in the top-10 include Martin Truex Jr. in eighth, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in ninth, and Elliott Sadler 10th.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR