Carl Edwards on pole at Sonoma
Carl Edwards on track at Sonoma Raceway (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)
By AMANDA VINCENT
Carl Edwards’ 74.799-second/95.777 mph lap at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway during the second of two rounds of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying on Saturday was good enough for the pole for Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350. It’s Edwards’ third pole of the 2016 season, but his first-career top starting spot on the Northern California road course.
“That was good,” Edwards said. “My first lap was amazing; the car was really good, and then, I wasn’t sure about the second lap. It was good enough, and that tells you how good the car is.”
Edwards also was the fastest in the first round of qualifying, with a 74.392-second/96.301 mph lap.
A.J. Allmendinger will join Edwards on the front row in the second starting spot. his second-round lap of 74.878 seconds/95.676 mph temporarily put him on the provisional pole before Edwards made his final qualifying lap.
“When I saw Carl’s first lap, I kind of said, ‘I don’t car what kind of lap I run. If he runs that again, I’m not going to get close,’” Allmendinger said. And then I saw it was less than a 10th. I always nitpick, but it was a big gain from where we were yesterday (in practice). We’ve still got to go to work, and we’ve still got to figure out what we need for race trim, but a good start at least.”
Martin Truex Jr. and Kurt Busch will start in the second row in the third and fourth positions. Kyle Larson rounded out the top-five in qualifying after being the final driver of the 12 to advance from round one to two. Larson was the fastest in the first of two practice sessions on Friday.
Joey Logano was the highest-qualifying Ford driver and the only Ford representative in the top-10 at the end of qualifying, taking the seventh spot on the starting grid. Logano’s Team Penske teammate, Brad Keselowski, was the only other Ford driver to advance to the second round of qualifying. He wound up 12th.
“That’s better than where we were last year,” Logano said. “We were 17th or 18th last year, so we’ve improved. I thought I had a shot after the first round but lost some grip the second round and tried harder at the same time and all of that just didn’t work out. It’s unfortunate that we lost a little bit from the first round to the second round, but we’re still in good shape.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., after being the fastest in the second practice session on Friday, failed to advance to the final round in Saturday qualifying to vie for a top-12 starting spot. Instead, he wound up just outside the top-12 in 13th. Earnhardt was the highest-qualifying driver from the Hendrick Motorsports camp, though, as none of his teammates — Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott and Kasey Kahne — broke into the top-12 in round one, either.
None of the rookie class advanced to the round of 12. Elliott was the highest-qualifying rookie, taking the 16th position on the starting grid.
Forty-one drivers made qualifying attempts for 40 available spots on the starting grid, including five on “open” or non-chartered teams hoping to take one of the four available positions not occupied by the 36 teams with charters. Two of those five hoped to make Sonoma’s race on Sunday their first-career Sprint Cup Series race.
Dylan Lupton garnered the 38th starting spot for his first Sprint Cup Series race, while Cody Ware was sent home, still without a Sprint Cup Series start to his credit.
“This is such a blessing to make my Sprint Cup Series debut tomorrow at Sonoma,” Lupton said. “I was hoping we would be a little faster than we were today, but we made more gains and that’s a good feeling heading into the race tomorrow. I’ve learned so much about these cars, myself and the track this weekend. It’s really been an experience I’ll never forget.”
Here’s the complete starting grid for Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway:
Row 1 — Carl Edwards (No. 19 Toyota), A.J. Allmendinger (No. 47 Chevrolet)
Row 2 — Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Toyota), Kurt Busch (No. 41 Chevrolet)
Row 3 — Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet), Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota)
Row 4 — Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford), Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota)
Row 5 — Paul Menard (No. 27 Chevrolet), Tony Stewart (No. 14 Chevrolet)
Row 6 — Danica Patrick (No. 10 Chevrolet), Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford)
Row 7 — Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Chevrolet), Casey Mears (No. 13 Chevrolet)
Row 8 — Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet), Chase Elliott (No. 24 Chevrolet)
Row 9 — Ryan Newman (No. 31 Chevrolet), Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Chevrolet)
Row 10 — Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Chevrolet), Michael McDowell (No. 95 Chevrolet)
Row 11 — Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet), Brian Scott (No. 44 Ford)
Row 12 — Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Toyota), Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet)
Row 13 — Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Chevrolet), Ryan Blaney (No. 21 Ford)
Row 14 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford), Trevor Bayne (No. 6 Ford)
Row 15 — Aric Almirola (No. 43 Ford), David Ragan (No. 23 Toyota)
Row 16 — Regan Smith (No. 7 Chevrolet), Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ford)
Row 17 — Matt DiBenedetto (No. 83 Toyota), Patrick Carpentier (No. 32 Ford)
Row 18 — Cole Whitt (No. 98 Toyota), Chris Buescher (No. 34 Ford)
Row 19 — Landon Cassill (No. 38 Ford), Dylan Liupton (No. 93 Toyota)
Row 20 — Josh Wise (No. 30 Chevrolet), Michael Annett (No. 46 Chevrolet)