Denny Hamlin to start first at Homestead ahead of Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch

<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nascar/sprint/drivers/1283/" data-ylk="slk:Denny Hamlin">Denny Hamlin</a> (11) leads early during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Phoenix International Raceway Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Denny Hamlin (11) leads early during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Phoenix International Raceway Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

A driver not racing for the title will start first in the 2017 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Denny Hamlin, the last driver to go out in the third round of qualifying, swiped the pole away from Martin Truex Jr., who will start second. Truex is a spot ahead of Kyle Busch, one of the three other drivers racing for the championship on Sunday.

The other two title hopefuls will also start in the top 10. Brad Keselowski will start fifth while Kevin Harvick will start ninth. Harvick’s car bobbled in turns 1 and 2 on his qualifying lap in the third round. He tried to go out for another lap but didn’t get his lap started before time expired.

Truex had been the fastest car through the first two rounds of qualifying, but Hamlin moved up to the very high groove on his third-round lap and was five-hundredths of a second faster. Hamlin was eliminated from playoff contention a week ago at Phoenix after he hit the wall and subsequently blew a tire after contact with Chase Elliott.

Matt Kenseth will start fourth. Sunday is Kenseth’s last Cup Series race as he leaves the sport full-time alongside Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick.

Junior will start last after his car had an engine problem in practice. He’ll officially be listed as starting 24th, but will drop to the rear of the field at the beginning of the race. Patrick is listed as the 25th-place starter. She announced Friday afternoon that she’s done as a full-time driver after Sunday’s race. Patrick will compete in the 2018 Daytona 500 and 2018 Indianapolis 500 before retiring.

Here’s the full lineup for Sunday’s race.

1. Denny Hamlin
2. Martin Truex Jr.
3. Kyle Busch
4. Matt Kenseth
5. Brad Keselowski
6. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
7. Kyle Larson
8. Kurt Busch
9. Kevin Harvick
10. Daniel Suarez
11. Ryan Blaney
12. Trevor Bayne
13. Jamie McMurray
14. Erik Jones
15. Paul Menard
16. Clint Bowyer
17. Austin Dillon
18. Chase Elliott
19. Joey Logano
20. Aric Almirola
21. Ryan Newman
22. Jimmie Johnson
23. Michael McDowell
24. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
25. Danica Patrick
26. AJ Allmendinger
27. Kasey Kahne
28. Landon Cassill
29. Chris Buescher
30. David Ragan
31. Matt DiBenedetto
32. Ty Dillon
33. Cole Whitt
34. Corey LaJoie
35. Joey Gase
36. Jeffrey Earnhardt
37. Reed Sorenson
38. David Starr
39. Ray Black Jr.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of Dr. Saturday and From the Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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