NASCAR Homestead: Hamlin on pole, three title contenders in top five

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

NASCAR Homestead: Hamlin on pole, three title contenders in top five

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.

Starting grid

Pos Driver Team Car
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

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Denny Hamlin
Author Jack Benyon
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