After having an abbreviated practice session on Saturday morning due to rain, the final practice of the season was able to go the full hour at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. At the top of the leader board was a familiar face, Joey Logano.
The No. 22 was fastest at a speed of 175.404 mph. He was almost a full tenth of a second faster than second quick Kasey Kahne.
The rest of the top five included three former Chase drivers, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch.
Jeff Gordon set the pace for the four championship contenders. In the final practice session of his career Gordon was ninth fastest with a lap of 31.156 seconds (173.321 mph).
Even though he is a four-time champion and a former winner at Homestead, Gordon was practicing how to get on and off of pit road at the end of practice in preparation for Sunday’s finale. The No. 24 will roll off from the fifth starting position and is looking to go out on top.
Just behind the No. 24 in 10th was the No. 78 of Martin Truex Jr. Both of these drivers set their hot lap on the second lap of the session. The top speed for Truex was 173.232 mph, three and a half tenths of a second behind Logano. Truex is playing the underdog role at Homestead but love nothing better to win his first Cup title.
In the 17th position is where Kyle Busch would pop up. The No. 18 laid down his fastest lap on Lap 1 at 171.418 mph. Busch was the slowest of the four Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas. He has stated that he has gone to his teammates for help this weekend because they have all been successful at the 1.5-mile track before.
Kevin Harvick was the slowest of the four title contenders in 26th. In the majority of the practice sessions this season the No. 4 has been near the top of the leader board. However, Harvick had to start the final practice session on old tires because crew chief Rodney Childress used an extra “sticker” set during the first practice session, thinking that final practice would be cancelled. On those old tires Harvick struggled and was complaining of a “free-off” condition.
The best news for the No. 24 team was that they had the best 10-Lap average. After complaining in the first practice session of being too loose, Gordon was happy with the changes and was able to pace the way after 10 laps. Busch was fourth fastest in that category behind Kahne and Logano. Truex had the seventh best 10-Lap average, while Harvick was the slowest of the four championship contenders in 16th.
The only incident came 20 minutes into final practice when David Ragan had a flat left rear tire. This is worrisome to the competition because this is the same tire that was used in the Nov. 8 race at the Texas Motor Speedway when there were multiple tire problems. This has been the only one this weekend thus far.