Kahne takes Homestead pole
|By Matt Beer||Friday, November 17th 2006, 22:14 GMT|
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."
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 Non-qualifiers: 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