NASCAR Homestead: Denny Hamlin on pole, Kyle Busch best in Chase

Denny Hamlin will start on pole for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title decider at Homestead, with Kyle Busch the leading championship contender in third

NASCAR Homestead: Denny Hamlin on pole, Kyle Busch best in Chase

Reigning champion Kevin Harvick was the only remaining Chase participant who failed to reach the pole shootout, even though he had set the pace in round one, while Jeff Gordon was nearly eliminated at the first hurdle but ended up qualifying fifth.

Gordon's final weekend of racing had got off to a bad start as he languished down in 30th in practice and was in the midfield after his first round one run.

The Hendrick Chevrolet was rapidly pushed down the order and was outside the round two cut-off in 25th going into the final minutes.

Gordon hauled himself into round two with a second attempt, ending the opening segment 18th fastest, while Harvick led the way with a lap a comfortable tenth of a second clear of the field.

But their fortunes switched in round two. Harvick's first lap was underwhelming, and when Gordon - who had held back in the pits at first - leapt up to sixth place, Harvick was knocked out.

Unable to improve on a second attempt, the Stewart-Haas driver will start 13th.

None of the title combatants looked a realistic threat for pole in the final session. Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota man Busch was soon established in third, beaten by his team-mate Hamlin and Penske driver Joey Logano.

Gordon left it until the last minute of round three to run, claiming fifth behind Ryan Newman.

On the day his Wood Brothers team announced it would return to a full-season programme for 2016, rookie Ryan Blaney put his Ford sixth ahead of Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Austin Dillon.

Underdog title contender Martin Truex Jr was 11th in the Furniture Row team's Chevrolet, sharing row six with Jimmie Johnson.

On his return from suspension after his Martinsville collision with Logano, Matt Kenseth qualified 19th for JGR.

Further back, Tony Stewart's struggles continued and he ended the last qualifying session of his penultimate season with an "embarrassing" 35th place.

Follow the NASCAR Sprint Cup title decider as it happens with Autosport Race Centre Live from 7.30pm UK time on Sunday

HOMESTEAD STARTING GRID:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 30.568s
2 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 0.068s
3 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 0.103s
4 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 0.228s
5 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 0.238s
6 Ryan Blaney Wood Brothers Racing Ford 0.264s
7 Carl Edwards Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 0.278s
8 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 0.281s
9 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 0.346s
10 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 0.354s
11 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet 0.378s
12 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 0.449s
13 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet -
14 Aric Almirola Richard Petty Motorsports Ford -
15 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet -
16 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Chevrolet -
17 Paul Menard Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet -
18 Kasey Kahne Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet -
19 Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota -
20 A.J. Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet -
21 Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Racing Ford -
22 Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet -
23 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet -
24 Clint Bowyer Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota -
25 Ty Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet -
26 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Racing Ford -
27 Casey Mears Germain Racing Chevrolet -
28 Sam Hornish Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports Ford -
29 Michael McDowell Leavine Family Racing Ford -
30 Justin Allgaier HScott Motorsports Chevrolet -
31 J.J. Yeley BK Racing Toyota -
32 Josh Wise Go FAS Racing Ford -
33 Alex Bowman Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet -
34 Landon Cassill Hillman Smith Motorsports Chevrolet -
35 Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet -
36 Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet -
37 Matt DiBenedetto BK Racing Toyota -
38 David Ragan Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota -
39 Michael Annett HScott Motorsports Chevrolet -
40 Cole Whitt Front Row Motorsports Ford -
41 David Gilliland Front Row Motorsports Ford -
42 Brett Moffitt Front Row Motorsports Ford -
43 Ryan Preece Phil Parsons Racing Chevrolet -
44 Jeb Burton BK Racing Toyota -
45 Reed Sorenson Premium Motorsports Toyota -

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