Homestead-Miami Speedway qualifying summary

Points Leader Busch On The Ford 400 Pole MIAMI, Fla., -- Kurt Busch's championship conquest got off to a strong start as the driver of the No. 97 Sharpie Ford captured the pole for Sunday's Ford 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season finale ...

Points Leader Busch On The Ford 400 Pole

MIAMI, Fla., -- Kurt Busch's championship conquest got off to a strong start as the driver of the No. 97 Sharpie Ford captured the pole for Sunday's Ford 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a fast lap of 179.319 mph.

Busch, who holds an 18-point lead in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series standings over Jimmie Johnson and a 21-point edge over Jeff Gordon, was the final driver to attempt to qualify for Sunday's race and captured his first Bud Pole of the season.

Busch has three career Bud Poles in 150 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series starts with his most recent Bud Pole coming at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2002, 72 races ago.

"First and foremost, is this Friday? I never knew we could do things like this on Friday," Busch quipped. "I'm somewhat puzzled at how we're able to do so well - just a great balanced race car that we scienced out with what tires we needed to put on it as far as stickers or scuffs, and then as far as the tempo on what to push hard during qualifying. Everything fell into place for us."

Rounding out the top three were Roush Racing's Greg Biffle (179.307) and Ryan Newman (179.093).

Johnson had the roughest day of the championship contenders. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Home Improvement Chevrolet couldn't post a fastest enough lap to crack the top 38 qualifiers and will use a provisional to start 39th.

"The car was really, really loose," Johnson said.

Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon delivered a solid qualifying effort by turning a lap of 178.719 to earn the fifth starting spot. Gordon is chasing his fifth career NEXTEL Cup Series title.

"I've really got to hand it to this DuPont team," Gordon said. "That was a great lap for us. When we came here and tested, we didn't run any qualifying set-ups. This will definitely give us a good starting spot." Mark Martin, who is 82 points out of the championship lead, will start 11th and Dale Earnhardt Jr., 72 points behind the leader, took the 16th starting position.

Tickets are still available for Saturday's Ford 300 NASCAR Busch Series finale and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Final Practice Happy Hour. To order tickets to Ford Championship Weekend, call (305) 230-RACE or (866) 409-RACE.

-hms-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports