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Edwards Claims PIR Cup Pole

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Saturday, February 26 2011

Carl Edwards will start the Phoenix Cup race from the pole. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)RacinToday.com

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Carl Edwards will start Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Speedway from the pole.

Edwards, who finished second in last weekend’s Daytona 500 and came to Phoenix as Sprint Cup points leader, logged a lap at 137.279 mph in his Roush Fenway Racing Ford to get the pole.

His lap was a new track record.

“That’s a big deal,” Edwards said. “We’ve had a lot of support from Subway. It’s been a lot of fun representing them and to be on the pole is huge. This new qualifying format is a little stressful. I had to watch Kyle go, and I know how fast he was, and then Kurt was screaming fast yesterday, so he had me stressed out a little bit. It’s fortunate we were able to sit on the pole. I love this race track. I know all the drivers love this race track. It’s really fun to drive on and starting up front is, hopefully, gonna make the race a lot simpler.”

Kurt Busch in a Penske Racing Dodge was second fastest in the session with a lap at

Kurt Busch remains hot in Sprint Cup. He will start from the front row on Sunday. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images for NASCAR)

137.112 mph.

“I just gave up a few thousandths of a second,” Busch said. “Carl ran a great lap.  This is a track position race and to start up front is a nice hurdle to get over.”

Third was Kasey Kahne of Red Bull Racing while Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch, who will start Saturday’s Nationwide Series race at Phoenix from the pole, was fourth.

“We had a really good lap there,” Kahne said. “I was real happy with it.  I got into turn one and two, through the center I was kind of waiting for it to get a little loose and it never did.  I felt like I got back in the throttle a little bit late.  I felt like I should have gone a little bit quicker, but still we ran a .25 and are starting top-three.  That’ll be a great spot for tomorrow.  We felt like our Red Bull Toyota was fast yesterday in practice in race practice so I feel like in tomorrow’s race we’ll have a good shot atstaying, holding our position and racing with those guys.  It’s going to be tough because everybody is pretty good.  It’ll betough, but Carl (Edwards) had a really good lap there and just barely pulled it off.”

Fifth was Regan Smith in the Furniture Row Chevy.

“I was surprised - I thought it was a slow lap, to be honest,” said Smith. ”So, I’m really pleased with that time. Sometimes when you’re fast it feels slow. We were a little off in qualifying trim yesterday so we made some adjustments today and everybody on this Furniture Row Chevy did an awesome job. We’ve been really working hard with our program to get it to this level.”

Rounding out the top were Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Jamie McMurray and Greg Biffle.

Fourty-four drivers attempted qualifying runs. The lone driver to not make the field was

Jimmie Johnson had a mediocre qualifying run at Phoenix. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Brian Keselowski, a surprise qualifier for last Sunday’s 500.

Trevor Bayne, the surprise winner of the 500, qualified 33rd.

“I know I needed more,” Bayne said. “When we ran that .70 I said it’s gonna take a .20 or .30 to be on the pole, so that wasn’t what we needed exactly.  I just didn’t have enough grip.  I couldn’t get much more out of the tire out there.  I think it’s gonna be good on a long run, but for qualifying it just wasn’t there.  We’ll get it, plus I’m learning, too.  This is my first time jumping back and forth between Nationwide and Cup since Texas, and they’re totally different cars and I’ve got a lot to learn with both.”

Five-time and defending series champions Jimmie Johnson was 28th.

“Without testing before the season,” Johnson said, “it’s just tough to know if the areas you’re working on during the off-season are good. We have a lot of ideas we’re trying to work through now so this weekend we haven’t had the raw speed that we had hoped to have but we’re working in a lot of areas to find speed. So I think in a couple of races from now, we’ll be where we want, but we’re going to have to deal with some tough moments I think, just because we can’t test like we used to in the old days.”

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Saturday, February 26 2011
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