Kenseth wins Homestead pole, Johnson qualifies seventh

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Updated: November 15, 2013

Homestead, FL (SportsNetwork.com) – Matt Kenseth gained ground in his battle
with Jimmie Johnson for the Sprint Cup Series championship by winning the pole
for Sunday’s season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Kenseth, who is attempting to win his second title in NASCAR’s premier series,
turned a lap at 177.667 mph during Friday’s qualifying for his third pole of
the season and the 11th of his career. It’s also his first pole at this 1.5-
mile South Florida track. Kenseth won the 2007 race here. His first Cup
championship came in 2003.

“Today was a really successful day for us,” Kenseth said. “I think we have a
lot of work to do tomorrow (Saturday’s final practice) to make sure we have
what we need for Sunday. Great place to start. It’s always nice to get that
first pit stall and hopefully get some bonus points early.”

Johnson will start seventh in his attempt to win a sixth championship in the
series. He enters this race with a comfortable 28-point lead over Kenseth and
a 34-point advantage over Kevin Harvick, who will roll off from the sixth
spot.

“I thought my line selection was real good, but I was off just a little bit on
balance,” Johnson said of his qualifying lap. “It was still a solid
performance. We’re in the top-10, which was the goal for our 48 car. We’ll
take this.”

Five days ago, Kenseth had one of his worst performances of the season at
Phoenix, finishing 23rd. He had been just seven points behind Johnson. Harvick
remained in title contention with his Phoenix victory. Johnson finished third
there.

Regardless of where Kenseth, Harvick or any other driver finishes at
Homestead, Johnson will clinch the championship with a finish of 23rd or
better, 24th or higher and at least one lap led or 25th or better and the most
laps led.

“We can’t really control what they (Johnson’s team) do, and they usually don’t
run 23rd or 24th without any problems, so really I think we just concentrate
100 percent on our car,” Kenseth said. “We’ll try to do everything we can and
go out there and run up front. Hopefully, we’ll have a shot at winning the
race or finish as high as we can, so if they do have any kind of problems,
we’re there to capitalize on that.”

Kurt Busch qualified second, followed by Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, who
clinched his first Sprint Cup title one year ago at Homestead, and Denny
Hamlin.

Martin Truex Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Elliott Sadler were eighth through
10th, respectively. All 43 drivers who attempted qualifying made the starting
field for Sunday’s race, which is scheduled to start just after 3 p.m. ET.