TALLADEGA, Ala.–Practice may not have made perfect for Carl Edwards, but it did make him a pole winner, after rain washed out Saturday’s time trials for Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.
Accordingly, the field was set by rainout rules, with the starting order determined by top speeds posted in the first of Friday’s two Cup practice sessions. Edwards ran 199.675 mph to secure the top spot.
Martin Truex Jr. (199.650 mph) will start second, followed by Marcos Ambrose (199.608 mph), Joey Logano (199.596 mph) and Ryan Newman (199.542 mph).
Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, series leader Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne will occupy the sixth through 10th positions on the grid, respectively.
Though Edwards will lead the field to the green flag, he will not get official credit for a pole position and will not earn eligibility to the 2014 Sprint Unlimited, because the starting order was not determined by time trials.
Because the probability of rain on Saturday was high, there was considerably more intrigue in practice than is typical at a restrictor-plate track.
“It was actually pretty exciting for all the teams, because we looked at this forecast, and we were all concerned that there wasn’t going to be single-car qualifying,” Edwards said. “It was like a heat race out there. Everyone was doing everything they could to lag back and partner up and get the fastest lap times they could.
“It was pretty exciting. We got the fastest lap with about one minute to go. That was our whole mission (Friday), and I’m pretty proud of the fact that we ended up with the fastest time.”
Truex was happy to have speed in practice but acknowledged that the race itself is likely to be quite different.
“We had a good plan in practice yesterday,” Truex said. “Our car felt really good. Obviously, Gen-6 car, first time at Talladega, a lot of guys trying to figure it out. We expected it to be similar to Daytona, but it actually feels quite a bit different, which was interesting.
“We really don’t know what to expect for (Sunday) yet. Practicing here is never quite like what it is in the race. You get in different positions, guys tend to be more aggressive in the race somewhat. When you get all 43 cars out there in a pack, it changes quite a bit.”
Note: Because of the rainout, Elliott Sadler did not make the 43-car field. His No. 81 Toyota had fewer qualifying attempts this year than any other car entered in the race.