Championship candidates start Ford EcoBoost 400 up front at Homestead-Miami Speedway

The four 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship contenders -- Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. -- garnered the top-four starting spots for the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the final race of the season. Rain at Homestead on Friday kept Cup cars from final practice, so NASCAR opted to cancel Saturday’s qualifying session in favor of a practice session.

The final starting grid of the season was determined by car owner points putting the title candidates in the first four positions, or first two rows, of the grid. The championship four drivers’ teams were tied in points heading into the final race weekend, so their starting spots were determined by their best race finishes in the previous round of the playoffs. Hamlin, Harvick and Truex were the three race winners in the three-race round of eight, putting them ahead of Busch on Sunday’s starting grid. Hamlin and Harvick were given front-row starting spots, with Hamlin on the pole. Truex and Busch wound up with second-row starting spots.

“We’re ready for Homestead and feeling really confident about what we can do down there,” Truex said of himself and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Busch and Hamlin. “It’s a testament to the work everyone at JGR has put in this year to get us all to where we are. I look forward to the challenge of racing those guys, as well as the 4 [Harvick]. We’ve all had incredible seasons, and now, it’s time to settle it and see who the best is on Sunday.”

Joey Logano and Kyle Larson, who were among the four drivers eliminated from championship contention in the round of eight that concluded the previous weekend at ISM Raceway, garnered starting positions highest among the drivers going only for the race win Sunday.

“We’re not heading to Homestead the way we wanted to, but we’re still just as focused on running upfront and winning the race,” Larson said. “I’m proud of what our team accomplished up to this point; we learned a lot during the playoffs and overcame a lot throughout the year to be really consistent and competitive in the second half of the season. We’ve been really good at Homestead and, statistically, have been one of the strongest cars there each race, and our whole group wants to prove we can get the job done and win. It should be another exciting event, and I hope we’re in the mix for the win at the end of the race.”

Awarded seventh through 10th starting positions were Logano’s Team Penske teammates Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski, William Byron and Clint Bowyer.