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Kyle Busch Has Best Friday Among Four Chasers

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, November 21 2015
Kyle Busch will start Sunday's grand finale in Homestead as the top Chaser and with teammate Denny Hamlin on the pole. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

Kyle Busch will start Sunday’s grand finale in Homestead as the top Chaser and with teammate Denny Hamlin on the pole. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Jeffmania is sweeping Homestead-Miami Speedway and caught up in are not just fans and the media but the people with whom Gordon bends metal with 36 times a year.

After winning the pole on Friday for Sunday’s season-ending, championship-deciding race at chase 15 logoHMS, Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing couldn’t resist invoking Gordon’s name and racing legacy.

“Sitting back here and watching Jeff talk and everything,” Hamlin said of the four-time champion who is looking to become a five-time champion in his career-ending race Sunday, “it’s like, man, you know, I thought about it before, but I didn’t think about like how awesome it would be to win his final race.

“No disrespect to him, but, man, that would be awesome to win his final race. I hope he finishes third behind Kyle (Busch, Hamlin’s teammate and also a title contender).”

Asked about helping Busch on Sunday, Hamlin said he would do what he could.

“Well, ultimately this weekend is about the company no doubt about it,” Hamlin said after winning the pole with a lap at 30.568 seconds (176.655 mph). “What’s the difference in me finishing 10th or 12th in points. Definitely our goal is to have a championship for JGR and

Jeff Gordon had an interesting Friday at Homestead. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Rusty Jarrett )

Jeff Gordon had an interesting Friday at Homestead. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Rusty Jarrett )

Kyle this weekend, so we’ll do everything we can. We obviously want to win the race so a perfect day would be us winning and him finishing second. So, I hope he hears that.”

Busch qualified third fastest on Friday, which was tops among the four Chasers.

He said he was happy with his lap and his car.

“Adam (Stevens, crew chief) did a really good job with getting the best option for us in qualifying here,” Busch said. “Those are some good company to follow right there with the 11 (Hamlin) on the pole. He’s obviously one of the best here and I’ve leaned on him a lot this week and we’ll continue to do so here through practice tomorrow. But, so far so good. Just happy with the way we’ve got it right now and hopefully we’ll get a good race car for tomorrow.”

Busch said he will take all the help he can on Sunday as he chases his first Sprint Cup championship.

“Just typically talking about lines and how to prepare for different race tracks,” Busch said of what he can glean from his mates. “I lean on that and I lean on Carl (Edwards) as well too. Everybody and use all of their information and just kind of tried to use it already here today and more so tomorrow. It’s going to be about getting the balance in the race car and making sure you can move all over this race track and be good for the race and fast cars and everything you’ve got to. Right now we’ve got a good starting spot so hopefully that continues on.”

Gordon qualified fifth fastest in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. That was second best among the four Chasers – Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row racing was 11th and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick, who failed to advance to the final round of qualifying was 13th.

Gordon almost failed to advance to the second round of the three-round qualifier. After being knocked out of the the top 24 in the first round, he had to go back out late in the session to attempt to regain a spot in round two.

He did it and did it with seeming ease. An ease he hopes he can attain in the race.

“I need three clutch laps like that to close this race out on Sunday,” Gordon said. “Just more disappointing in myself the first one.  We had an interesting day.  We rolled off first off pit road in race trim, and when I was making my good lap there on new tires, cars were getting up to speed on the back straightaway, so we were really far down the timesheet.  The car actually felt like it had good speed.  The second run I was really impressed with, and then we went to go into qualifying trim, and it rained.

“That was disappointing, and I think that really affected me, that first run.  I just didn’t push the car hard enough, didn’t realize how much more grip was going to be out there compared to practice, and I just wasn’t aggressive enough.  The car was fine.  The car was good.  I just needed to go faster mainly through 1 and 2.

“I really did not think we could go faster than that.  I didn’t think the tires would have it in them.  The fact that we were able to advance to the second round was huge.  Kind of got me motivated and pumped up after that, and we made some adjustments, some big adjustments on the car which we felt like we needed to do as you advance through the round and get the tires hot and air pressures start changing you know you’ve got to adjust the balance.  The team did an excellent, excellent job of that in those last couple laps.  That last one could have been a tiny bit better, but knowing that we had one extra lap on the tires, I’m very, very proud and happy with that run.”

Truex Jr., attempting to put Denver, Colorado on the racing map, called his Friday “decent”.

“We never really could get the balance of the car just like we wanted,” Truex said. “But for us really qualifying hasn’t been our strong suit on these type tracks.  I thought 11th was a decent effort.  Obviously wanted to be better and did a lot throughout qualifying to make adjustments and tried to move my line around and just never really could quite hit on it.  So tried something a little different in the third round; probably cost us a few spots there.  But all in all, it’s not about where you start here.  This race is really hard on tires, really wears tires out, and long runs are going to be key, so looking forward to getting out theretomorrow and working on our car and seeing what we have for Sunday.”

Harvick posted the top speed in qualifying. The bad thing about that was that the fast lap came in the first round.

“Yeah, round 1 was really good for us, and then we went to round 2 and just really, really tight in the next two runs that we made,” the defending champion said. “You know, we just never really recovered from what we did in the first round to make it repeat.  All in all, I just think our balance was too tight.  We’ll work on the race car and go from there.”

Harvick shrugged off his qualifying effort. Not that important, he said.

“It’s really no different than any other week,” Harvick said. “I mean, we’ve not qualified as well this year as we had last year, especially on some of these types of racetracks.  We got one out of the three rounds, but we only got two shots at it ‑‑ well, we got three shots at it today, so it’s really not anywhere too far outside of the box from where we’ve qualified in a lot of these races this year on these types of racetracks.”

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying – Ford EcoBoost 400

Homestead-Miami Speedway

Homestead, Florida

Friday, November 20, 2015

  1. (11)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 176.655 mph.
  2. (22)  Joey Logano, Ford, 176.263 mph.
  3. (18)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 176.062 mph.
  4. (31)  Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 175.347 mph.
  5. (24)  Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 175.291 mph.
  6. (21)  Ryan Blaney(i), Ford, 175.143 mph.
  7. (19)  Carl Edwards, Toyota, 175.063 mph.
  8. (2)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 175.046 mph.
  9. (88)  Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 174.678 mph.
  10. (3)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 174.633 mph.
  11. (78)  Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 174.498 mph.
  12. (48)  Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 174.098 mph.
  13. (4)  Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 175.444 mph.
  14. (43)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 175.404 mph.
  15. (41)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 175.365 mph.
  16. (17)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 175.279 mph.
  17. (27)  Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 175.239 mph.
  18. (5)  Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 175.239 mph.
  19. (20)  Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 175.211 mph.
  20. (47)  AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 174.859 mph.
  21. (16)  Greg Biffle, Ford, 174.419 mph.
  22. (1)  Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 174.340 mph.
  23. (42)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 174.059 mph.
  24. (15)  Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 172.651 mph.
  25. (33)  Ty Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 174.848 mph.
  26. (6)  Trevor Bayne, Ford, 174.115 mph.
  27. (13)  Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 173.829 mph.
  28. (9)  Sam Hornish Jr., Ford, 173.723 mph.
  29. (95)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 173.650 mph.
  30. (51)  Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 173.399 mph.
  31. (26)  JJ Yeley(i), Toyota, 173.199 mph.
  32. (32)  Josh Wise, Ford, 172.833 mph.
  33. (7)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 172.750 mph.
  34. (40)  Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 172.618 mph.
  35. (10)  Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 172.463 mph.
  36. (14)  Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 172.276 mph.
  37. (83)  Matt DiBenedetto #, Toyota, Owner Points
  38. (55)  David Ragan, Toyota, Owner Points
  39. (46)  Michael Annett, Chevrolet, Owner Points
  40. (35)  Cole Whitt, Ford, Owner Points
  41. (38)  David Gilliland, Ford, Owner Points
  42. (34)  Brett Moffitt #, Ford, Owner Points
  43. (98)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, Owner Points


2 drivers failed to qualify.


  1. (23)  Jeb Burton #, Toyota, 170.084 mph.
  2. (62)  Reed Sorenson, Toyota, 169.545 mph.




| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, November 21 2015
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