Brad Keselowski got some help on the last day of practice for NASCAR's Sprint Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway.
Pole sitter Joey Logano was involved in a three-car accident during the first of two practice sessions Saturday, switched to a backup car and will start from the rear of the field Sunday.
That will move Keselowski, who had qualified third, to the front when the green flag drops Sunday. Marcos Ambrose will start on the outside.
And if Keselowski leads the first lap, he will extend his points lead from 20 to 21 in the 400-mile race. He needs to finish 15th or better to clinch the title, which would be the first for longtime NASCAR team owner Roger Penske.
"I certainly wasn't expecting to be on the front row," Keselowski said. "It's different from what we're used to, but it's different in a good way. ... If I can take the lead without wrecking myself, then that's what I'm going to do."
Keselowski seemed a little tighter than usual Saturday, quite possibly starting to feel the pressure as he goes for his first championship.
Fellow title contender Jimmie Johnson, who will start 10th in the finale, has done all he can to make Keselowski feel uncomfortable.
"Ready to race for sure," Johnson said. "Very pleased with how our car finished up. It's really nothing for me to lose sleep about tonight. It's an easy night for me. ... Easy from my standpoint because I've got nothing to lose. We'll
Johnson also thoughts about how he would like see the first lap unfold.
"I hope (Keselowski) tries really, really, really hard to lead that first lap," Johnson said. "I know Ambrose next to him is going to try hard, too. That could be good for me."
Keselowski knows Johnson is messing with him and is a little envious of his position.
"I don't ignore it, but if we could change places, I bet he would in a heartbeat," Keselowski said.
Keselowski was faster than Johnson in practice Saturday. Keselowski turned the faster lap and edged Johnson with a better 10-lap average.
But NASCAR chairman Brian France stressed the sport is committed to both social media and technology, and drivers could be communicating from inside digital cockpits as early as 2014.
Keselowski was fined $25,000 for having a cellphone inside his car last week at Phoenix International Raceway. NASCAR found out about the phone because he tweeted during a red flag in the race -- the exact same thing he did to worldwide acclaim in the season-opening Daytona 500 without penalty.
France admitted Keselowski's tweets in February caught NASCAR by surprise, and the rule has since "evolved" to address the possibility of competitors manipulating electronic fuel injection with onboard digital devices.
Nationwide Series: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. left little doubt that he's ready for a promotion.
Stenhouse became the sixth driver to win consecutive championships in NASCAR's Nationwide Series. He finished sixth in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, edging Elliott Sadler for the title.
"A lot of people put a lot of effort into this and I'm just the lucky guy who gets to drive it," said Stenhouse, who is replacing Matt Kenseth in the Sprint Cup Series next season at Roush Fenway Racing.
Stenhouse finished his final Nationwide season with six wins.
About the only drama in the finale was whether he would play it safe. He did, but not without a few close calls. His spotter even had to remind him several times over the final 10 laps to avoid potential pitfalls.
Stenhouse eventually obliged, but only after he held the push-to-talk button down on his steering wheel to drown out all the chatter in his helmet.
"I don't ride around," Stenhouse said. "That's not how we got in this position."
Regan Smith won the 300-mile race, his first victory in 103 Nationwide starts. He was making his first start since 2007, and he's going to race for the championship next season for JR Motorsports. This was his debut race with that team, which is co-owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and had not won a race since 2010.