Edwards wins pole for Saturday night at Richmond
RICHMOND, Va (AP) – Carl Edwards will start from the pole position in the final race of NASCAR’s “regular season” on Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway.
The Roush-Fenway Racing driver turned a fast lap at 127.762 mph in qualifying Friday night. He edged Juan Pablo Montoya, whose lap came at 127.455 mph.
The pole is the sixth of Edwards’ career and his second this season, and it puts him in prime position to go for broke in one of the few stress-free races of the season.
“There’s really no pressure,” said Edwards, winless since the 2008 season finale. “It’s just go out and have fun and try not to run into Clint Bowyer or one of those guys that’s got a lot on the line.”
A.J. Allmendinger earned the No. 3 starting spot, followed by Bowyer and David Reutimann for the final race before NASCAR begins its 10-race Chase for the championship.
The starting spot is especially important for Bowyer, who holds down the No. 12 spot in the standings and needs only to finish 28th or better to secure a spot in the Chase.
While having fun on the track, Edwards does have the opportunity to improve his Chase position, as do all the others already locked into the 12-driver field for the title push. Each victory is worth 10 bonus points when they reset the field for the playoffs.
“I think they key for us is just to go out and win a race,” Edwards said. “While the pressure is off, you can go out and take risks and you can race harder, and I think sometimes you get a chance to perform really well when that pressure is off. Hopefully with this good pit stall and good starting spot, we maybe get a win and get those 10 bonus points.
“That’d be huge. That’s just what we need to start the Chase.”
Montoya, Allmendinger and Reutimann have no such Chase concerns, all having missed the top 12. But Allmendinger said his run was the product of hard work for his team on finding a way to improve how well they adapt to practicing during the day and qualifying at night.
“That is probably the thing we struggle with the most in these races,” he said.
Among the 10 locked in Chase performers, leader Kevin Harvick will start 20th, No. 2 Jeff Gordon will start 22nd and third-place Kyle Busch will roll off from the 32nd spot.
Local favorite Denny Hamlin will start 14th.