The field for Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway won’t include any of NASCAR’s championship-four drivers at the front of the field.
Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski, who were both eliminated from title contention in recent weeks, will start on the front row. But final-four drivers Kyle Busch (ninth), Carl Edwards (10th), Joey Logano (13th) and Jimmie Johnson (14th) will start well behind them.
Johnson and Logano didn’t make it out of the second round and will start together on the seventh row.
Johnson’s first lap of the opening round wasn’t fast enough to make the top 24, and before he had a chance to go out for a second lap, Landon Cassill spun with 57 seconds left in the round. Johnson came out after the track was cleared and squeaked into the second round with the 22nd-fastest time. Johnson didn’t make it out of the second round and will start 14th Sunday. Logano will start alongside Johnson in 13th.
“It felt like an OK lap,” Johnson said of his first time out. “But it was just slow. What’s the Chase without a little drama?”
Said Logano: “We all sucked. I don’t know what happened. Not starting at the front is not what we expected. I’m sure we will all move up to the front when the race get started.”
▪ Sunday’s race is a grandstand sellout, Homestead-Miami Speedway announced Friday. The track has a capacity of 46,000.
▪ Joe Gibbs Racing owner Joe Gibbs became emotional Friday when talking about his son J.D., the team’s president who has been undergoing treatments for symptoms impacting areas of his brain for the past two years.
“I want to mention J.D., and that every time I get here or someplace like this, this might be a weekend where he can't come,” Joe Gibbs said. “I just thank everybody here that's prayed for him.”
▪ Chip Ganassi Racing announced Friday that Tyler Reddick will drive an unspecified number of Xfinity Series races for the team in 2017. Reddick, who has won three Truck Series races in his career and barely missed making the Chase this season.
▪ Joe Gibbs also said that he called Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick for advice when Gibbs became interested in owning a NASCAR team in the late 1980s. Gibbs would form his team in 1991 and has won four Cup championships since.
“Biggest mistake I ever made,” Hendrick said Friday of the phone call with Gibbs, with a smile.