Carl Edwards locked up the pole position for Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 at the Michigan International Speedway. The pole came not long after Edwards had locked himself out of his rental car and had to be rescued by a team member.
The race will be the 15th of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
Driving the Fastenal Ford, Edwards powered around the high-speed track at a speed of 202.452 miles per hour, which was slightly off the track record of 203.241 mph. Said Edwards about the 12th pole of his Sprint Cup career and the first-ever at Michigan.
“We have been working very hard as a team on these cars trying to figure out how to turn the corner with these Ford Fusions,” Edwards said. “Everybody, including the other drivers, has been working hard on these cars to make them go faster. This weekend, Doug Yates and the guys at Roush Yates engines have also turned the corner and we have great horsepower. It is a great day, and I cannot wait to race this car and pull it all the way through and get a win. Hopefully, I can get the 1,000th win for Ford on Sunday.”
Regarding the emphasis on improving the performance of the Ford products, Edwards noted, “We have just started the ball rolling, and although this is one lap, the process that is going to put us out front of Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing is just starting. We can use these positive things like this pole and Greg Biffle’s run last week to move forward and to gain faith in a better process. I think it is going to be great and the engine is a big part of it. You can’t hide an engine on this racetrack, and there’s not a faster car in the place than ours. That’s a big deal.”
Kurt Busch charged to the second fastest time with a speed of 201.879 mph. He drives the Furniture Row/Sealy Chevrolet.
“Our qualifying lap was close (to pole). Carl Edwards went out early and posted a number that was in the range where we thought we could run, but we came up a little short,” he said. “When you are splitting hairs like that and come home second, there are no worries. We could have made a lap like that and come home 15th. To be second in qualifying is good and now we have to step into the race, to close the deal. We are knocking on the door.
“This team has done a great job in the shop, and there a couple of guys on this team that are doing a phenomenal job, better than I have seen at other places with a combination of speed. It is cool and it is a good feeling.”
Kasey Kahne put the Farmers Insurance Chevrolet into the third starting position with a speed of 201.213 mph.
Said Kahne about his run, “The track was really good, and it has lost some of its black color (from the repaving) and is turning gray but it still has a lot of grip. I am looking forward to more rubber getting on the track before Sunday’s race. We are pushing hard to make the Chase after last week’s problem. We need to run well on Sunday, and today’s run felt good.”
Paul Menard timed fourth at 200.803 mph.
Row three qualifiers were Aric Almirola and Joey Logano, and they were followed by youthful Austin Dillon and Matt Kenseth.
Kyle Busch and Juan Pablo Montoya rounded out the top-10 qualifiers.
Notable drivers and their starting positions were Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 12th and Tony Stewart 14th in a back-up car after crunching his primary car in an earlier practice run. Brad Keselowski will start 16th, Jimmie Johnson 17th and Kevin Harvick 21st.
In a swap of cars, Bobby Labonte qualified the Finch entry 20th and A. J. Allmendinger put Labonte’s regular ride, the No. 47 Toyota of Tad Geschickter, into the 32nd starting position.
Forty-four cars took qualifying runs and Scott Riggs was the only one to miss the starting field.
The Quicken Loans 400 will air live on TNT at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.