BROOKLYN, Mich. — A day after he drove one of the first American race cars, Carl Edwards captured the pole for Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400.
Edwards, the sixth driver on the track Friday afternoon, recorded the fastest lap of the day at 202.452 mph to win the Coors Light Pole Award. His No. 99 Ford will start Sunday’s race alongside Kurt Busch’s Chevy.
“We’ve been working very hard and trying to turn the corner with these Ford Fusions to make them faster,” Edwards said. “I just cannot wait to race this race car.
“There isn’t a faster car on the track than our car and to us that’s a big deal.”
Busch was a little more than a tenth of a second off Edwards’ pace at 201.879 mph.
This is Edwards’ first pole of the season and first ever at Michigan International Speedway, where he’s won twice. His last victory here came in August 2008.
Edwards will start Sunday’s race 51 points behind Sprint Cup Series leader Jimmie Johnson.
Edwards and Busch were among 13 drivers qualifying faster than 200 mph. Nineteen drivers eclipsed 200 mph in qualifying last June in the first qualifying session here since the track was completely repaved. Marcos Ambrose, who’ll start 23rd on Sunday, set the qualifying record last spring at 203.241.
Kasey Kahne, Paul Menard, Aric Almirola and Joey Logano rounded out the top six. Johnson, who’s never won a pole or race here, will start 17th.
Busch was the 41st of Friday’s 44 qualifiers but felt like he had a chance to surpass Edwards.
“Carl Edwards went out and posted a number early that was right in the range we thought we could run,” said Busch, who also was second fastest in Friday morning’s practice session. “When you’re second, no worries.
“Overall, to be up front and to have clean air on our car early in the race will definitely be a benefit.”
Kahne had the fastest lap in the practice session and was faster during qualifying. He said he thought the track could be especially fast after Saturday’s additional qualifying periods and the Nationwide Series Alliance Truck Parts 250.
“Sunday should be a good show,” Kahne said. “It’s a cool track and its fast right now.
“To come as close as those guys came to the qualifying record shows how fast the cars are here. The track feels really good, really smooth. It’ll definitely open up more tomorrow.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who broke a 143-race dry spell here last spring, will start 12th, two spots ahead of Tony Stewart, who had to resort to his backup car after brushing the wall out of turn 2 during Friday morning’s practice session.
Edwards’ feat came a day after he drove ‘Sweepstakes’, the car Henry Ford built for a 1901 challenge race. His victory won him the confidence of investors and led to the founding of the Ford Motor Co. two years later.
The auto pioneer’s great-grandson, Edsel Ford II, arranged the ride for Edwards, who drove it around Greenfield Village near the company’s Dearborn, Mich., headquarters Thursday.
“It was scarier driving that thing at 25 mph on the road than going into a corner here,” he said.
A win Sunday would be especially sweet for Ford, which marks the 110th anniversary of its founding the same day.
The pole, the 12th of his career, netted Edwards a berth in next year’s Sprint Unlimited.
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