"It was a decent lap," said Busch, who had clocked in with the fastest lap in practice (31.136 seconds/173.433 mph) leading up to qualifying. "The car was sliding around a little too much. We were the fastest in practice so we couldn't adjust the car that much. We wanted to leave it along and it slid around a little bit too much.
"We're 40 points behind Jeff Gordon," said Busch, who was 10th out in the qualifying order. "If we have a good run and he doesn't have the best of days, we could gain 40 points on him and bump us up to third in points. Qualifying is important at all places, but some more so than others. Here, with the multiple grooves, qualifying is not the most important thing. It helps to get a good pit box selection so you're not fighting the track-position game from the get-go. One thing that is fun about this race is it starts in the day and goes into night."
Jimmie Johnson, going for his fourth consecutive Sprint Cup Series Championship here this weekend, was only 21st-fastest in practice, but when it really counted came through to win the Coors Light Pole Position. Going out 32nd in the qualifying order, Johnson clocked in with a lap of 31.049 seconds (173.919 mph) to grab the top spot.
Scott Speed, the last of the "go-or-go-homers" to make their qualifying runs, repeated the same head-turning feat today that he did here last year. Speed again took the outside pole today by turning in a lap of 31.269 seconds (172.695 mph). Marcos Ambrose grabbed the third starting spot with his 31.272-second (172.678 mph) lap. Mark Martin will start fourth after turning in a lap of 31.331 seconds (172.353 mph) and Tony Stewart (31.351 seconds/172.243 mph) starts fifth.
Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, Bill Elliott and Clint Bowyer rounded out today's top-10 qualifiers. Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski (31.613 seconds/170.816 mph) will start 27th, while teammate Sam Hornish Jr. (31.617 seconds/170.794 mph) will start 29th.
"We were hoping for a better starting spot, but I think we'll be just fine for the race," said crew chief Pat Tryson, who will be atop the No. 2 team pit box for the final time here on Sunday. "We got in a lot of laps in race trim here today and we'll really get our Miller Lite Dodge dialed in here tomorrow in the two practice sessions."
This is a quick look at where the top-12 "Chase drivers" will start at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday:
1) #48-Jimmie Johnson, on the pole, 1st
2) #5-Mark Martin, 4th
3) #24-Jeff Gordon, 20th
4) #2-Kurt Busch, 12th
5) #14-Tony Stewart, 5th
6) #42-Juan Pablo Montoya, 23rd
7) #16-Greg Biffle, 8th
8) #11-Denny Hamlin, 38th
9) #39-Ryan Newman, 7th
10) #9-Kasey Kahne, 25th
11) #99-Carl Edwards, 24th
12) #83-Brian Vickers, 33rd
Saturday's first practice here at Homestead-Miami Speedway is scheduled from 1:30 p.m. till 2:15 p.m. and the final "happy hour" practice session is scheduled from 2:50 p.m. till 3:50 p.m. Sunday's Ford 400 (400 miles, 267 laps) has a scheduled 3:45 p.m. EST starting time here on this 1.5-mile speed plant located at the north end of the Florida Keys. ABC-TV and MRN Radio will provide live coverage of all the action.