Edwards streaks to All-Star pole
Qualifying for NASCAR’s All-Star race, already unique with its three laps with a pit stop format, was more unusual on Friday night.
Just for this event, NASCAR allowed drivers to come in for their stops as fast as possible without a pit road speed limit.
“It was petrifying,” Carl Edwards said.
But not petrifying enough to keep Edwards from winning the pole for tonight’s 90-lap no-points exhibition race.
Unlike a number of drivers, Edwards blew into his pit box without any trouble and got a great stop from his crew to take the top spot. His stop took about a second less than the stop of Kurt Busch, who wound up second after Dale Earnhardt Jr. was assessed a five-second penalty for a loose lug nut.
Some drivers made major mistakes. Kevin Harvick had his time disallowed because part of his stop was performed while his car was out of its pit box after he slid too far. Marcus Ambrose nearly spun out and came to a stop sideways. Logano was among those who couldn’t get stopped soon enough and had to back up in his pit. Jimmie Johnson also slid through his stall and had a five-second penalty for a loose lug nut.
Edwards said that Busch had set the bar for getting onto pit road in practice.
“Everyone was talking about how fast he was getting onto pit road,” Edwards said. “I decided I was going to have to be pretty insane myself to beat him. My plan coming down the backstretch was to be conservative when I saw how many guys were sliding in the pits. But coming through turn 3, the car stuck so well that I came onto pit road pretty hard. It was fun and I wish we did it more often.”
Greg Biffle. Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer were the remainder of the top six. Earnhardt’s penalty dropped him to 15th.
“The cool thing about this is that it involves everyone on the team and the crew had such a great stop,” Edwards said.
Drivers were given only 15 minutes to practice getting onto pit road at over 150 miles per hour and getting stopped.
“It was insane,” Edwards said. “There was no oversight.”
Tonight’s race, which pays $1 million to the winner, will be in five segments — four 20-lap runs and a 10-lap finale.
In an attempt to keep drivers racing all out in every segment, the average finishes from the first four segments will determine how drivers will come into the pits for a mandatory pit stop before the final segment.
In another move to help spice up the action, event organizers have posted a $1 million bonus for sweeping all five segments.
“I think there is a chance (of someone sweeping all five segments),” defending All-Star winner Johnson said. “With the competition that exists in the All-Star race that is going to be a long shot. But, it’s worth it and it will cause some excitement. If somebody does ring that bell, it will be a heck of a party.”
A total of 19 drivers are already in the All-Star race. Three more will be added tonight. Two will be the top two finishers in a 40-mile Showdown qualifying race. The other will be selected by fan vote.
Martin Truex Jr. won the pole for the qualifying race with a speed of 193.424 miles per hour in a normally best-of-two laps qualifying session.
Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Casey Mears completed the top five. Bobby Labonte was 11th and Dave Blaney 19th.