NASCAR Cup: Carl Edwards sweeps Bristol poles
Carl Edwards wins the pole for the Bass Bro Shops NRA Night race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Aug. 19, 2016 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).
By AMANDA VINCENT
Carl Edwards swept 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series poles at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway, most recently posting a 14.602-second/131.407 mph lap on Friday in the third of three rounds of qualifying for Saturday night’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race. It was his fifth pole of the season.
“A little bit surprising,” Edwards said. “We didn’t make a mock (qualifying) run. That tells you how great of teammates I have. They’re so fast and they helped us out a lot, so we’ll start where we started earlier this year.”
Joe Gibbs Racing dominated qualifying and, as a result, dominate the top-five of the race starting grid. Edwards will share front row with teammate Denny Hamlin Kyle Busch will start third. All four JGR drivers qualified in the top-five, as Matt Kenseth took fifth.
Joe Gibbs Racing boasted the fastest two cars in each round. Hamlin led the way in rounds one and two, and his 14.573-second/131.558 mph lap in the opening round set a new track record, breaking his own record from a year ago.
“Through the weekend, we’ve had really good speed, so pretty optimistic about that,” Hamlin said. “I can’t believe we’ve qualified as good as we have this year and to not have gotten a pole has been unbelievable, but still, a great effort by our whole team and, hopefully, we will have a good race up here tomorrow night and we get in victory lane.”
Busch was second to his teammate in round one. In round two, though, Kenseth was second to Hamlin.
The only non-JGR driver to qualify in the top-five was Sprint Cup Series rookie Ryan Blaney in fourth.
“I thought we were fast unloading and tweaked on it from there,” Blaney said. “We found some good things that worked and found some things that didn’t work, and it was just an overall fairly good day for us.”
Here’s a look at the complete starting grid for Saturday night’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway:
Row 1 — Carl Edwards (No. 19 Toyota), Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota)
Row 2 — Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota), Ryan Blaney (No. 21 Ford)
Row 3 — Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Toyota), Chase Elliott (No. 24 Chevrolet)
Row 4 — Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Toyota), A.J. Allmendinger (No. 47 Chevrolet)
Row 5 — Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford), Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford)
Row 6 — Jeff Gordon (No. 88 Chevrolet), Chris Buescher (No. 34 Ford)
Row 7 — Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet), Kurt Busch (No. 41 Chevrolet)
Row 8 — Ryan Newman (No. 31 Chevrolet), Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet)
Row 9 — Aric Almirola (No. 43 Ford), Matt DiBenedetto (No. 83 Toyota)
Row 10 — Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Chevrolet), Paul Menard (No. 27 Chevrolet)
Row 11 — Casey Mears (No. 13 Chevrolet), Trevor Bayne (No. 6 Ford)
Row 12 — Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet), Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Chevrolet)
Row 13 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford), Michael McDowell (No. 95 Chevrolet)
Row 14 — Tony Stewart (No. 14 Chevrolet), Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet)
Row 15 — Danica Patrick (No. 10 Chevrolet), Brian Scott (No. 44 Ford)
Row 16 — Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Chevrolet), Landon Cassill (No. 38 Ford)
Row 17 — Regan Smith (No. 7 Chevrolet), Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ford)
Row 18 — Cole Witt (No. 98 Chevrolet), Reed Sorenson (No. 55 Chevrolet)
Row 19 — David Ragan (No. 23 Toyota), Jeffrey Eearnhardt (No. 32 Ford)
No. 20 — Michael Annett (No. 46 Chevrolet), Josh Wise (No. 30 Chevrolet)