HOMESTEAD, Fla. – The odds may be against him, but Matt Kenseth won’t give up pursuit of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship without a fight.
Kenseth qualified on the pole Friday for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, keeping the pressure on championship leader Jimmie Johnson heading into the season finale Sunday night.
The pole, Kenseth’s third of 2013, came after an impressive 30.394-second lap at 177.667 mph around the 1.5-mile oval in the No. 20 Toyota. It gives him a slight edge over Johnson – who starts seventh – going into the season finale. Johnson needs only to finish 23rd or better to clinch his sixth series championship.
“Today was obviously a really successful day for us,” Kenseth said. “I think we have a lot of work to do tomorrow to make sure we have what we need for Sunday. Still, it is a great place to start (from the pole) and it is always nice to get that first pit stall and hopefully get some bonus points early.
“All we can do is control the 20. My team did a wonderful job of that all today. The car was way better than I was all day so I was glad I could kind of get them a decent lap and get some speed out of the car,” Kenseth said.
Kurt Busch, in search of a victory in his final race with Furniture Row Racing, will start second. Penske Racing teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski share row two, followed by Denny Hamlin in fifth.
Kevin Harvick, the only other drive besides Johnson and Kenseth that is still mathematically able to win the championship, qualified sixth. Johnson, Martin Truex Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Elliott Sadler completed the top 10.