NASCAR: Brad Keselowski moves up to pole for season finale
Homestead, Fla. • A crash in practice Saturday sent Chase leader Brad Keselowski to the pole position for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Pole winner Joey Logano was involved in a crash with Greg Biffle and Denny Hamlin. All three drivers went to backup cars for the Ford EcoBoost 400, meaning all three will move to the back of the field for the race start.
Since cars move forward on the grid by inside or outside lanes when cars are moved to the back, Keselowski will advance from the No. 3 starting position to the pole position.
The upgraded position couldn't have come at a better time for Keselowski, who hasn't won a pole all season.
Keselowski leads Jimmie Johnson by 20 points and needs to finish 15th or better to win his first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.
"I certainly wasn't expecting to be on the front row for this weekend's race," Keselowski said. "It's a little bit different, for sure, than what we've been used to. But it's different in a good way for us."
Logano was trailing Biffle and Hamlin as they collided during practice.
NASCAR used its discretion in the decision to not allow Logano to make a lane choice before he drops to the back, as is the custom when pole winners go to a backup car for the race. Logano, who will be Keselowski's teammate next year at Penske Racing, was expected to remain in the inside lane to help his future teammate, but NASCAR officials took the decision away from him.
"Keselowski is smiling," Hamlin said. "He's smiling for sure. Those guys are executing really well. From what I've seen so far this weekend, I just don't think [Johnson] has the speed to run with those guys, anyway. I think they're going to have to rely on something catastrophic."
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. became the sixth driver to win consecutive championships in NASCAR's Nationwide Series. Stenhouse finished sixth Saturday in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, edging Elliott Sadler for the title. Regan Smith won the 300-mile race. Kyle Busch was second, followed by Brandan Gaughan, Sam Hornish Jr. and Austin Dillon.
Stenhouse, who is replacing Matt Kenseth in the Sprint Cup Series next season at Roush Fenway Racing, won six Nationwide races this season.
Sprint Cup standings
1. Keselowski 2,371
2. Johnson 2,351 -20
3. Kahne 2,321 -50
4. Bowyer 2,319 -52
5. Hamlin 2,309 -62
6. Kenseth 2,297 -74
7. Biffle 2,293 -78
8. Harvick 2,285 -86
9. Stewart 2,284 -87
10. Gordon 2,281 -90
11. Truex 2,260 -111
12. Earnhardt 2,211 -160
Sprint Cup Series
P Ford EcoBoost 400
Sunday, 1 p.m.
TV • ESPN