Carl Edwards will start where he finished in the spring at Bristol. Edwards won the pole for Saturday nights NASCAR Sprint Cup Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Edwards put down his pole winning lap 14.602, 131.407 mph with just over two and a half minutes in the third and final round of qualifying Friday evening.
Edwards also secured the pole at Bristol and turned that into a race win in April. Should Edwards win Saturday night he would become the fourth driver in NASCAR history to complete a season sweep of both poles and races at Bristol joining Bobby Allison (1972), Cale Yarborough (1977) and Darrell Waltrip (1981).
“It’s nice to have fast teammates,” said Edwards smiling. “We wouldn’t have had a shot at if it wasn’t for them. We thought it was going to rain, so we didn’t practice qualifying or anything. My guys made great adjustments based on that information.”
While Edwards lap secured him his fourth pole of the season and the 21st of his career, that wasn’t the fastest laps Friday. That belonged to Edwards’ Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin, who set a new track record in the first round of qualifying with a lap of 131.668 mile s per hour. Hamlin led the second round as well, but didn’t carry that speed into the third round however. He waited until late in the final round and came up just short, though still good enough to secure second.
“We had really good speed, so I’m pretty optimistic about that,” Hamlin said. “I can’t believe we’ve qualified as good as we have this year and not gotten a pole. “
Fellow JGR driver Kyle Busch will roll off third. Rookie Ryan Blaney broke up the JGR qualifying sweep making a run good enough to secure fourth, leaving JGR driver Matt Kenseth fifth.
Among those failing to advance out of the first round were Tony Stewart, Jamie McMurray, Danica Patrick and Greg Biffle who spun on his first attempt. Biffle, who had also spun during final practice, was allowed to change tires, and went out for a second run, but still failed to advance; he will start 34th Saturday night.
Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, and Kurt Busch were among the big names that fell short of making the top 12 in the final round. One driver who did make the final round was Pocono winner Chris Buescher. The Front Row Motorsports driver who needs to point his way inside the top 30 to secure a spot in the Chase made it to the final round for the first time in his Cup career.
“I tell you what, Pocono put a little pep in everyone’s step around here,” Buescher said. “It was really cool. A lot of these guys it was their first win as well as mine, so it’s neat to get everybody excited past halfway through the season and gives us something to shoot for again.”
Chase Elliott will start sixth, Martin Truex Jr., seventh, AJ Allmendinger eighth with Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Jeff Gordon and Buescher rounding out the top 12. With 40 entries for the race, no one was sent home. The full lineup can be found here.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway will take the green flag just after 7:30 p.m. ET with live coverage on the NBC Sports Network.