Jimmie Johnson is still confident of overhauling Brad Keselowski in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, despite qualifying seven spots behind his rival for the Homestead season finale.
Johnson, who has won five of the last six Cup titles, lay third on the grid after completing his Friday run, but was knocked back to 10th by a number of rivals, including Keselowski, who will start third, While the Hendrick Motorsports driver said he would have liked to have put his Chevrolet closer on the grid to Keselowski's Penske Dodge, he is confident that his race setup will ensure he advances swiftly up the order.
"I'd love to have him right there by me when we start the race and put the pressure on him," said Johnson, who needs to win with Keselowski outside the top 15 to become champion. "We'll get a good stall on pitroad and go into race trim tomorrow and make sure we've got our racecar right."
While Keselowski focused mainly on race set-up during Friday's only practice session, Johnson's crew had worked solely on getting his car right for qualifying
Its occupant was therefore left puzzled by the result of the session, in which Joey Logano took pole on his final Cup outing for Joe Gibbs Racing.
"We just worked on qualifying trim today," he said. "What's interesting is that a lot of the guys that were really fast in race trim, weren't so good in qualifying. The packages are very different."
"So there are some trends you can carry over and we'll take what we learned today and apply to our race setup. But Saturday is a better tale of where everybody is.
Despite being only 10th on the grid for Sunday's 400-mile race, Johnson was the fastest Chevrolet driver during qualifying.