Joey Logano may have knocked Brad Keselowski off the front row in Friday's time trails at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but Keselowski nevertheless had reason to celebrate.
The last of 47 drivers to make a qualifying attempt, Logano scorched the South Florida track in 30.672 seconds (176.056 mph) to claim the pole for Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, beating Marcos Ambrose (175.342 mph) and Keselowski (175.092 mph) for the top starting spot.
The Coors Light pole award was Logano's second of the year and the fifth of his career.
The 27th driver out and the first of four to top 175 mph, Keselowski toured the 1.5-mile track in 30.841 seconds. Johnson, the 32nd qualifier overall and the fifth to follow Keselowski couldn't match the driver he's pursuing for the title, posting a lap at 174.081 mph.
Johnson, who trails Keselowski by 20 points entering the season finale, will start 10th on Sunday. Keselowski can lock up his first Cup title with a finish of 15th or better, but he didn't want to overstate the importance of the qualifying positions.
"Other than pit stall selection, it's kind of a moot point, in a sense," said Keselowski, who recorded his best qualifying effort in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. "I was prepared to qualify drastically behind the 48 car—I think the whole team was.
"You look at the race tracks that we talked about being similar to here, Chicagoland and Texas, at both of those race tracks , we qualified drastically behind them, and we were able to get up there. And that shows that, if you have a great race car, you'll be able to get the job done. . .
"That actual track position becomes irrelevant if you have a great race team."
Sunday's race will be the last with Joe Gibbs Racing for Logano, who will join Keselowski at Penske Racing next year.
"To go out there in our final race with JGR, to go out there and get a pole for those guys—they deserve it, all the guys back at the shop," Logano said. "I've been working with 'em since I was 15 years old . . . They gave me the car I needed to do what I had to do, and I did what I had to do, and we got the pole."
Reed Sorenson, Stephen Leicht, Jason Leffler and Joe Nemechek failed to make the 43-car field.