HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Joey Logano leaned in toward Jimmie Johnson and offered a few words of comfort.

“At least we all sucked,” Logano said.

The four NASCAR Sprint Cup championship drivers all failed to get that one final boost they needed to better position themselves to win it all Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Logano, Carl Edwards, 2015 Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch and Johnson all will start outside the top five. Busch will start ninth, Edwards 10th, Logano 13th and Johnson 14th. Johnson would match Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Richard Petty for the NASCAR record with his seventh career Cup championship.

“I don’t think any of us want to start that far back,” Edwards said.

But they are bunched close enough that one TV camera can probably catch them all as they head into the first turn on the 1.5-mile track. Busch started third in the finale last season and won the race and his first career Cup title.

The foursome likely won’t lag behind the front of the field for long.

“This is a place you can pass,” Logano said.

The highest-finishing driver among the four is the 2016 champion. Under the revamped Chase format, the Homestead winner the last two years won the championship.

Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski, eliminated from title contention in earlier rounds of NASCAR’s playoffs, played spoiler and swept the front row.

“I think we’ve been the two best cars all year,” Keselowski said.

Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth and Ryan Blaney all will start ahead of the championship drivers.

Drivers out of the championship picture traditionally part to let the contenders race each other hard in the meat of the race.

“You get a little more respect from those guys,” Busch said.

Amid a heap of tributes, Tony Stewart starts 11th in the final race of his NASCAR career. Stewart is trying to race to his 50th Cup victory and end a triumphant career in victory lane.

“There hasn’t been any part of my career that I didn’t enjoy,” Stewart said. “There are things about everything that I’ve done that I’ve liked more than others and disliked more than others. But as a whole, I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve done and the road that I’ve taken to get here.”

Edwards and Busch are each vying to win a second straight championship for Joe Gibbs Racing. Johnson could bring a 12th title to Hendrick Motorsports. Logano wants to reward Roger Penske’s 50th season in racing with another championship.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. should be medically cleared from his concussion in December and ready to race in the 2017 Daytona 500.

Team owner Rick Hendrick said Earnhardt recently sent a text that said he was just waiting for Daytona to return to the track. Earnhardt hasn’t raced since July 9. The Daytona 500 opens the season on Feb. 26.

“He feels great. Everything’s on track,” Hendrick said Friday at Homestead. “Every step that we need to go through, we’ve gone through. I don’t see anything holding us back.”

TRUCK SERIES: Johnny Sauter won his first NASCAR championship by edging three other contenders in the inaugural Chase for the Camping World Truck Series.

Sauter finished third at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday night to win the title.

William Byron won the race – his seventh victory of the season – to wrap up the owner championship for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Byron was headed toward the win last weekend at Phoenix that would have put him in the final four, but his engine blew in the closing laps.

Sauter finished fourth in the standings the last four years, but the Chase format gave him a shot at the title at Homestead.