NASCAR Homestead 2013 qualifying results: Kenseth takes pole, Johnson qualifies 7th

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Kenseth started his weekend off right, winning the pole for the season-ending race Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Trailing by a sizeable margin, Matt Kenseth knows every point is invaluable as he attempts to catch championship leader Jimmie Johnson.

Kenseth began the process of closing the 28-point gap on Johnson when he took the pole position in qualifying Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. If Kenseth can lead a lap in Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 he receives a bonus point and another bonus point if he can lead the most laps.

"The thing is Jimmie is so far ahead that even if he does have a problem we need to be in the front to be able to capitalize on that if he does have something go wrong," Kenseth said. "This is a good start to that and it will hopefully get us a bonus point right away. We have the best pit stall and that seems to be an advantage every week.

"We need to be up front and try to lead this thing as much as we can and be in that mix at the end."

Seeking his sixth series title, Johnson will start seventh, and said afterward he was happy with his lap. To win the championship all he has to do Sunday is place 23rd or better, regardless of where Kenseth finishes.

"It was a difficult set of circumstances qualifying at night when you practice during the day," Johnson said. "But I think we did a nice job adjusting the race car. We had a nice car in qualifying and a decent run. ... Everything has been good and smooth and hopefully it stays that way for us."

To win his third pole of the season and the 11th of his career, Kenseth clocked-in a speed of 177.667 mph around the 1.5-mile oval. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver will share the front row with Kurt Busch. Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin round out the top five qualifiers.

The only other driver with a mathematical chance of winning the championship is Kevin Harvick, who qualified sixth and is 34 points behind Johnson.

"We can win this race," Harvick said. "... I feel really confident in the car and obviously there are going to be guys that have the cars, but I feel confident that we have a car fast enough to win this race."

Ford EcoBoost 400 starting lineup

Position Driver Speed
1) Matt Kenseth 177.667
2) Kurt Busch 177.445
3) Joey Logano 177.282
4) Brad Keselowski 177.061
5) Denny Hamlin 176.846
6) Kevin Harvick 176.655
7) Jimmie Johnson 176.598
8) Martin Truex Jr. 176.436
9) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 176.436
10) Elliott Sadler 176.413
11) Kyle Busch 176.355
12) Paul Menard 176.355
13) Kasey Kahne 176.304
14) Jeff Burton 175.747
15) Ryan Newman 175.73
16) Greg Biffle 175.69
17) Trevor Bayne 175.507
18) Carl Edwards 175.433
19) Aric Almirola 175.376
20) Kyle Larson 175.353
21) Dale Earnhardt Jr. 175.347
22) Mark Martin 175.273
23) Marcos Ambrose 175.109
24) Danica Patrick 175.092
25) Clint Bowyer 174.78
26) Jeff Gordon 174.61
27) Juan Pablo Montoya 174.537
28) Jamie McMurray 174.329
29) David Ragan 174.317
30) Parker Kligerman 173.171
31) David Gilliland 173.099
32) David Reutimann 172.563
33) Travis Kvapil 172.287
34) Michael McDowell 172.26
35) Josh Wise 172.046
36) AJ Allmendinger 171.734
37) JJ Yeley 171.717
38) Dave Blaney 170.891
39) Landon Cassill 170.481
40) Casey Mears 170.154
41) Ken Schrader 170.122
42) Joe Nemechek 169.817
43) Tony Raines 167.183

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