The stage has been set.Ã‚Â The players are prepared.Ã‚Â The time has come for the final curtain of NASCAR’s 36 event season with the running of the Ford 400 at Miami HomesteadÃ‚Â Speedway and the chase has never been this tight since the beginning of the format.Ã‚Â Who wants to win it more?
Jimmie Johnson comes out of the box swinging.Ã‚Â Knowing that the better you start makes it easier to get those all valuable bonus points Johnson came out with a qualifying run that shows the rest of the field just where he wants to be, out front.Ã‚Â Although he starts 5th in the field and will have to work his way to the front, he’ll certainly have an easier time at it from there than Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin.Ã‚Â Harvick was running 31st in the final practice session achieved a marginally better starting spot of 28th while Hamlin, who lost ground from his 30th place practice speeds, will start way back in 37th.
It may not be a points advantage that Johnson has but it certainly is a mental one.Ã‚Â Knowing that each of them need a win to secure the title they can all see who is going to have an easier time at it right out of the gate.
Hamlin had a hard time finding speed all day.Ã‚Â When nothing seemed to be working they switched the the set up that team mate Kyle Busch was using but even that didn’t work.
“It was just too tight,” Hamlin said. “We didn’t improve [even with the change in set up], but our car’s going to be fine. We know that. This is a track you can pass on. We’re looking forward to that part of it. Friday has just never been our strong suit, so we’ve got to battle back again.”
Harvick, who starts 5 rows ahead of Hamlin, didn’t have much better luck in practice either.Ã‚Â Running comparable times to Hamlin however should help him mentally as he knows he can improve his car just as much as Hamlin can in the pits.
Johnson seems to be taking it all in with the composure of a champion.Ã‚Â He’s been here 4 times before, however he has never had to win here before who claim NASCAR’s top prize. while he wanted to take the pole Kasey Khane spoiled his plans.Ã‚Â Starting 5th certainly won’t hold Johnson .back
“We came down really well organized with scenarios we wanted to work with on the car if the handling went a certain way, and stuff worked as we had hoped, which was nice to see,” said Johnson, who can claim his fifth consecutive title with aÃ‚Â win on Sunday and getting the bonus for leading the most laps.
Like he said at the conclusion of last weeks race in Phoenix “3 guys, one race, winner take all.Ã‚Â it’s gonna be one hell of a show.”