The fine-tuning is over. All the preparations have been made. And now, all that’s left to do is crown a champion.
“Set-Up Saturday” at Homestead-Miami Speedway ended with the top two Sprint Cup title contenders leading Sprint Cup final practice for tomorrow’s season-ending Ford Ecoboost 400.
Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson went 1-2 in “Happy Hour,” with Kenseth’s top lap at 171.980 mph narrowly beating out Johnson’s at 171.647 mph.
However, Johnson – who leads Kenseth by 28 points for the championship going into tomorrow’s race – had the fastest 10-consecutive lap average in the session. Johnson’s first ten laps in the session averaged out at 167.905 mph.
On the overall chart, Brad Keselowski was third-quickest (171.559), followed by Martin Truex Jr. in fourth (171.342) and Kevin Harvick in fifth (170.864).
Kenseth starts on pole tomorrow, while Johnson starts seventh. Harvick, who is still in contention for the championship as well at 34 points behind Johnson, starts sixth.
Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.
Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.
Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.
“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.
“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”
Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.
“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.
“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”