First time’s the charm

SONOMA, CA - JUNE 22:  Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Aflac Ford, drives during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 22, 2013 in Sonoma, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

SONOMA, CA – JUNE 22: Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Aflac Ford, drives during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 22, 2013 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

SONOMA, Calif.— Carl Edwards thought the new group-based qualifying format for road courses in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series might give him a mulligan if he made a mistake in his first qualifying lap.

Wrong. As it turned out, Edwards had just one chance to post his best lap—and made the most of it.

“The qualifying format was supposed to be easier on the drivers, because we were supposed to get a couple of laps,” Edwards said after earning the third stating spot for Sunday’s race. “But my crew chief (Jimmy Fennig) went ahead and taped the grille off and said that we’d just get one lap, so I was really happy with the lap.

“I made a couple of little mistakes. I think I could have done better, but, still, it’s the best position I’ve had starting here, and to be anywhere near (second-place starter) Marcos Ambrose in qualifying at a road course is an honor for me.”

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