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Kahne takes Homestead pole

Kasey Kahne will start from pole position for the NASCAR Nextel Cup season finale at Homestead, while points leader Jimmie Johnson edged closer to the title by taking 15th, and Juan Pablo Montoya comfortably made it into the field for his Cup debut.

The Evernham Dodge team dominated qualifying for the Ford 400, with Kahne's teammate Scott Riggs joining him on the front row, and Elliott Sadler putting the squad's third entry in fourth pace behind Kyle Busch.

"The engine package we brought here is very strong and the Dodge Chargers are working well," said Kahne.

"We'll see what happens, but it's pretty nice to have all three cars up front."

Needing only 12th place in Sunday's race to clinch the championship, Johnson was perfectly content to take 15th in the starting line-up.

"We're certainly excited to get to work and just get out there and do the job that we've been working so hard on," said Johnson. "We had a good practice session and now in qualifying that's the best lap we've had all day."

Kevin Harvick was the best placed of the outside title contenders, taking seventh. Fellow long-shots Denny Hamlin and Dale Earnhardt Jr went 33rd and 14th fastest respectively, with Johnson's nearest rival Matt Kenseth securing 19th.

With a massive 56-car entry aiming for 43 places in the race, Nextel Cup debutant Montoya's first challenge was simply to qualify. He did so with little drama, taking 29th despite not yet being content with the handling of his Ganassi Dodge.

"I think the team did a really good job for me, but it was pretty tight," said Montoya. "We improved it a lot, but we're still not there yet."

Having been fastest in morning practice, Kurt Busch expected to be a major contender for pole. Instead he struggled to 36th.

"We made too many changes and got it real loose," Busch explained. "It was an animal!"

He fared better than Robby Gordon, who will drop to the back of the field after a massive engine failure on his second qualifying lap.

"It's kind of how the season's going," said Gordon. "I think that's our fourth motor in five weeks, so we've got some work to do."

Qualifying results:

Pos  Driver              Make         Speed
 1.  Kasey Kahne         Dodge      178.259
 2.  Scott Riggs         Dodge      178.218
 3.  Kyle Busch          Chevrolet  178.118
 4.  Elliott Sadler      Dodge      178.059
 5.  Jeff Burton         Chevrolet  177.983
 6.  Brian Vickers       Chevrolet  177.288
 7.  Kevin Harvick       Chevrolet  177.270
 8.  J.J. Yeley          Chevrolet  177.084
 9.  David Gilliland     Ford       177.009
10.  Clint Bowyer        Chevrolet  176.945
11.  Reed Sorenson       Dodge      176.881
12.  Jeff Gordon         Chevrolet  176.840
13.  Joe Nemechek        Chevrolet  176.719
14.  Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Chevrolet  176.621
15.  Jimmie Johnson      Chevrolet  176.569
16.  Ryan Newman         Dodge      176.505
17.  Mike Bliss          Dodge      176.396
18.  Sterling Marlin     Chevrolet  176.384
19.  Matt Kenseth        Ford       176.344
20.  Martin Truex Jr.    Chevrolet  176.292
21.  Tony Stewart        Chevrolet  176.108
22.  Greg Biffle         Ford       176.016
23.  David Stremme       Dodge      176.016
24.  Scott Wimmer        Chevrolet  175.999
25.  Dave Blaney         Dodge      175.959
26.  Mark Martin         Ford       175.879
27.  Jeff Green          Chevrolet  175.810
28.  Paul Menard         Chevrolet  175.667
29.  Juan Montoya        Dodge      175.581
30.  Bobby Labonte       Dodge      175.553
31.  Carl Edwards        Ford       175.507
32.  Jeremy Mayfield     Dodge      175.473
33.  Denny Hamlin        Chevrolet  175.359
34.  Travis Kvapil       Chevrolet  175.319
35.  Robby Gordon        Chevrolet  175.256
36.  Kurt Busch          Dodge      175.228
37.  Ken Schrader        Ford       175.222
38.  Kyle Petty          Dodge      174.961
39.  Casey Mears         Dodge      174.447
40.  Tony Raines         Chevrolet  174.227
41.  Dale Jarrett        Ford       173.723
42.  Jamie McMurray      Ford       173.706
43.  Bill Elliott        Chevrolet  n/a


     Ward Burton         Chevrolet  174.927
     Brandon Whitt       Chevrolet  174.514
     Casey Atwood        Ford       174.295
     Kenny Wallace       Chevrolet  174.182
     Todd Kluever        Ford       174.126
     David Ragan         Ford       173.734
     Michael Waltrip     Dodge      173.033
     Mike Skinner        Chevrolet  172.507
     Derrike Cope        Dodge      170.352
     Kevin Lepage        Dodge      170.277
     Carl Long           Dodge      169.396
     Chad Chaffin        Dodge      167.801


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Biffle wins race, Johnson takes title