NASCAR: Matt Kenseth wins Miami pole but his title hopes remain slim

While Matt Kenseth was happy with his first pole at Homestead Miami Speedway, third of year, he knows that’s not quite good enough to claim his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.

“I’m always surprised when I’m on the pole and qualifying isn’t my strong suit,” Kenseth said after his 11th career pole. “I think I missed every corner. He (crew chief Jason Ratcliff) did a spectacular job to make the adjustments and we got the (pole) lap.”

That said no matter what Kenseth does Jimmie Johnson, who will start seventh, only needs to finish 23rd or better to clinch the title. Kenseth averaged 177.667mph around the mile and half oval.

“Jimmie is so far ahead if he has a problem; we have to be able to capitalize on that, try to lead as much as we can.

Last week, at Phoenix, Kenseth’s bad set up caused him to finish 23rd and fall 28 points behind Johnson. This pole was a bit of mood booster.

“Phoenix takes the wind out of your sails when you have a day like that. We were leading the points with three to go and now there’s a slim chance it (the pole) builds confidence.

Johnson, talking about Sunday’s race, said of his commanding points lead “It’s a great position to be in… it’s nice but it doesn’t guarantee anything. I have to run all 400 miles on Sunday and that’s really the goal.”

Looking to Sunday Kenseth added “we can’t control how they (Johnson) finish. We have to concentrate on the 20 (his Toyota’s number).”

Matt Kenseth, NASCAR, Miami-Homestead

Matt Kenseth (Photo: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)

Kurt Busch, in his last race for the one-car Furniture Row Racing team, was chagrined that the team finally turned a corner on his Chevrolet in the final race of the Chase, and starts second at 177.445mph.

Busch, the first champion in NASCAR’s Chase format said “it was a great lap gave me confidence to sweep through turn two on the high side.” Considering how he restored his reputation which resulted in his deal with Stewart-Haas Racing and taking the FRR team to the Chase made him proud.

“Ultimately it’s been a very successful season.”

Joey Logano, also having one of his best seasons, who starts third at 177.445mph credits a recent test in a Nationwide Series Ford for giving some vital information on how the track will change in a race that starts in warmer daylight and finishing in cooler temperatures after the son sets.

Brad Keselowski, Logano’s Penske Racing teammate and 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion will start fourth.

Kevin Harvick, who is third in the standings, and will also be leaving for Stewart-Haas Racing, will start sixth alongside fifth place Denny Hamlin.

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