News & Media


Edwards lights up Bristol with sub-15-second lap for pole

March 29, 2011, Sporting News Wire Service, NASCAR.com

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Posting the only sub-15-second lap of Friday's Sprint Cup qualifying session, Carl Edwards edged Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle for the pole for Sunday's Jeff Byrd 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Edwards powered his No. 99 Ford around the .533-mile short track in 14.989 seconds (128.014 mph) to Biffle's 15.035 seconds (127.622 mph). Regan Smith (127.580 mph) will start a career-best third in the fourth race of the Cup season, with Paul Menard (127.537 mph) beside him on the second row.

Bristol

Race Lineup
Pos.DriverMake
2. G. Biffle Ford
3. R. Smith Chevrolet
4. P. Menard Chevrolet
5. D. Ragan Ford

The Coors Light Pole Award was Edwards' second of the season, his second at Bristol and the ninth of his career.

Edwards acknowledged, however, that a right-side tire change made on the fly by Goodyear has the potential to change the nature of Sunday's race.

Goodyear is transporting new right-side tires to Bristol to replace the right sides both Cup and Nationwide teams ran during Friday's practices. Cup drivers, who qualified on the tires that will be replaced, will have one set of new right sides for Saturday's practice.

The tires Goodyear provided for the race failed to "rubber in" the race track, and heavy wear on the outside shoulder of the right-rear tire did not improve during practice.

"The potential is there to completely turn this field upside-down, figuratively," Edwards said. "Guys that were struggling [Friday] could be dominant on Sunday. It's going to be very interesting. At a place like this, the tire is hugely important."

Biffle conceded that the tire change might have been necessary, but he would like to see drivers' tire management regain a higher level of importance in NASCAR racing.

"The tire change looks necessary, I guess," Biffle said. "Maybe the Nationwide cars are using a harder tire than we seem to be. I haven't seen any indication that this tire wouldn't work for the race, but some guys ran longer than we did [in practice], so that may be part of it.

"Part of our sport is tire management by the driver, and we don't have that anymore."

Despite the tire issues, Edwards hopes his early season roll continues. He finished second in the Daytona 500, won the pole at Phoenix and claimed his first victory of the season in the March 6 Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

"I'm enjoying this," Edwards said. "I'm having fun. I'm hoping it lasts, and I'm going to keep driving the way I'm driving until we win a championship, or this car won't go as fast."

David Ragan will start fifth, followed by five-time defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson. Jeff Gordon, Martin Truex Jr., Mark Martin and Kasey Kahne will start from positions 7-10, respectively.

Notes-n-Nuggets

• Carl Edwards has started on the front row in four of the past six races.
• Carl Edwards' most recent win from the pole was this past November at Phoenix (five races ago).
• Carl Edwards posted the best opening practice time at 14.912 seconds (128.675 mph).
• Roush Fenway Racing has won the pole for three of the four races this season: Phoenix and Bristol (Carl Edwards), Las Vegas (Matt Kenseth).
• Greg Biffle (second) will start in the top 10 for the third consecutive race.
• Regan Smith (third) scored his career best start in his 99th race; he started in the top five in three of the first four races of 2011.
• Paul Menard (fourth) posted his first top-10 start of 2011 and his first top-10 start at Bristol in eight starts.
• David Ragan (fifth) scored his best start of 2011; it's only his second top-20 Bristol start in his ninth start.
• Jimmie Johnson (sixth) posted his best start of 2011; he has scored top-10 starts in his past three Bristol races.
• Dennis Setzer (40th) is making first Cup start since Martinsville in September 1998.
• The pole winner has won 22 times at Bristol.
• Last driver to win from the pole at Bristol: Carl Edwards (August 2008).
• Three of the past four races at Bristol were won from starting positions of 15th or lower.

Ken Schrader failed to qualify for the 43-car field.