Qualifying for races is NASCAR usually is very important and regularly plays a role in the outcome. As the three 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders left qualifying on Friday for the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, only Jimmie Johnson found himself starting in the top 10 after qualifying 6th. The other two, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick, will find themselves in the back of the group after qualifying 38th and 28th respectively.
This is the final race of the season and fans will know the winner of the 2010 Sprint Cup Championship following the race. Hamlin, the worst of the three in qualifying on Friday, holds the lead over Johnson in the points standings by just 15 and holds a 46-point lead over HarvickBut Hamlin showed no signs of panicking despite his poor qualifying finish.
“Our car’s going to be fine tomorrow, we know that,” Hamlin said. “And this is a track where you can pass. We’re looking forward to that part of it.”
If history plays a part in Sunday’s race, Hamlin’s starting spot should not matter. Last year at Homestead, he also started 38th and wound up winning the race. In addition, he hasn’t qualified well all season and now finds himself in good position to win the championship.
“Fridays have just never been our strong suit,” Hamlin said. “So we’ve got to battle back again.”
Hamlin will need to avoid trouble as he battles his way through the field on Sunday. In addition, he will need to be focused due to the fact that his two opponents have tried to get into his head all week and this could be seen during a Thursday news conference that appeared to be more like a roast than interviews. In regards to staying out of trouble while moving up through the field due to poor qualifying, Johnson is well aware of this as well. Although, he will be starting much further up than Hamlin.
“It’s not ideal, but I think we’ve all shown that you don’t have to qualify up front to run up front,” Johnson said. “If you had a scale of risk, the further back you start, the higher up the scale of the risk it would take you than (qualifying) up front.”
Kasey Kahne will start from the top spot after his winning qualifying lap of 176.904. Johnson and Carl Edwards will have their odds set at 7/2 according to NASCAR sportsbooks to win on Sunday. Hamlin has his set at 11/2 while Harvick is at 8/1.