Joey Logano leads Champ. 4 in Sprint Cup final practice; Johnson fastest overall


All that’s left is to crown a NASCAR Sprint Cup champion.

Jimmie Johnson paced the last final practice of the 2014 season at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a top lap of 175.200 mph, while Joey Logano led the Championship 4 that will race for the title Sunday with the seventh-fastest lap overall (173.127).

Logano may say or may have already said a quick prayer after this session, but it appears he avoided a potential disaster on one of his runs. Team Penske tweeted the following:

When asked where he stood going into Sunday’s Ford Ecoboost 400, Logano felt he was in pretty good shape but did not have as much speed on short runs as he would like.

“It doesn’t quite have the take-off speed that we need, so we just have to find a little bit there,” Logano told Fox Sports. “I feel like the long run is where the Shell-Pennzoil Ford is really fast. To be able to just maintain speed for a long time, I think that’s key here at Homestead.

“…There’s a lot of room to race here, so you have a lot of green flag runs. Just because I tell myself that doesn’t make me feel good, but you have seen that in the past quite a bit, so I feel pretty good about it.”

Logano also talked about needing to find a way to make the middle and bottom groove work for him, even though he acknowledges that the top groove is the preferred way around the 1.5-mile oval.

“You’ve gotta be able to move around a little bit, and I feel like our car can do that too,” he added.

Following him on the time sheets was Practice 2 leader and fellow title contender Kevin Harvick in P8 overall with a lap of 173.099 mph. A little farther back were Ryan Newman in 12th (172.806) and Denny Hamlin (172.756) in 13th.

In regards to 10-lap averages, Johnson’s first 10 circuits in “Happy Hour” netted the fastest average of 171.446 mph. But among the Championship 4, Hamlin was tops at 170.095 mph, which also came during his first 10 laps; Harvick was seventh (Laps 18-27, 169.380), Newman was eighth (Laps 1-10, 169.222), and Logano was 12th (Laps 26-35, 169.043).

Green flag for Sunday’s race is scheduled to fall at 3:17 p.m. ET.