Edwards leads JGR sweep for Bristol pole

Carl Edwards
Getty Images for NASCAR

When Carl Edwards wins the pole at Bristol, good things happen — for Edwards.

So forgive the driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing if he feels optimistic about Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway (1 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the eighth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season.

With the only sub-15-second lap in the money round of Friday's knockout qualifying at the 0.533-mile short track, Edwards won his second Coors Light Pole Award of the season, his third at Bristol and the 18th of his career.

In Edwards' two other pole-winning efforts at Bristol, he has finished first (2008) and second (2011).

"I didn't know that," said Edwards, who practiced in both race trim and qualifying trim in Friday's opening session and was pleased with the speed in his car in both configurations.

"As I've spent more time at JGR, I've just learned that, from the top to the bottom, it's just a real team. It's fun to be a part of it. and we're having a good time. Hopefully, we can turn this into a win. We have that first pit stall, my guys will be excited about that, and we'll just go get 'em."

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Edwards, nicknamed "Concrete Carl" for his success on concrete racing surfaces, rocketed around "The World's Fastest Half-Mile" in 14.991 seconds (127.997 mph) to edge teammate Matt Kenseth (127.419 mph) for the top starting spot by .068 seconds.

"That's pretty cool to run a less than 15-second lap," Edwards said. "It's a real testament to my guys and everybody on this team has been working so hard. You see it each week. The JGR Toyotas are up front, and these cars are really nice to drive. (Crew chief) Dave Rogers and everybody did a really nice job."

Ford driver Joey Logano (127.191 mph) qualified third to break up the Joe Gibbs Racing party in the top five. JGR teammates Denny Hamlin (126.804 mph) and Kyle Busch (126.553 mph) will start fourth and fifth, respectively.

Having suffered through a star-crossed early season that has produced but one top 10 in seven races, Kenseth hopes his second-place starting position will signal a change in his fortunes.

"Obviously, all of the JGR cars were fast again so thanks to everyone who's building these things and TRD (Toyota Racing Development) with the engines," Kenseth said. "In the first round we were pretty good, we thought, and then the second round we tried something and we were too tight, and then the third round we were a little too loose really.

"We were just that much off, but overall it was a great day and we'll still get a good pit stall and a good place to start, and hopefully we'll get it driving good tomorrow (in Saturday's practice) and we can race them on Sunday."

Jimmie Johnson had the fastest Chevrolet, qualifying sixth. Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., AJ Allmendinger and Trevor Bayne completed the top 10 in time trials.

Note: On his first lap in the opening round, Ty Dillon hooked the cub off Turn 2 and spun the No. 14 Chevrolet he is driving in place of injured Tony Stewart. The car slid into the back of Landon Cassill's Ford, which was rolling on the apron after completing a qualifying run.

Both cars were damaged cosmetically, but neither team had to resort to a backup car. Cassill qualified 28th, Dillon 34th.

CARL EDWARDS, No. 19 Comcast Business Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Starting Position: 1st

What does this pole mean to you here at Bristol?

“Just awesome, what Comcast Business does is they find solutions for complex problems and this place is really complicated and my guys did a really good job making the car drive well on all different segments. When you’re driving in the corner and these things take off and slide and Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and everybody did a really great job. It’s really cool to get this pole."

What has the recent strong runs meant to this team?

“We just had an awesome year and it’s a true team effort. As I’ve spent more time at JGR I’ve just learned that from the top to the bottom it’s just a real team. It’s fun to be a part of it and we’re having a good time. Hopefully we can turn this into a win. We have that first pit stall again, my guys will be excited about that and we’ll just go get ‘em.’

How did your fast lap of 14.991 seconds feel today?

“That’s pretty cool to run a less than 15-second lap. It’s a real testament to my guys and everybody on this team has been working so hard. You see it each week the JGR Toyotas are up front and these cars are really nice to drive. Dave Rogers (crew chief) and everybody did a really nice job. I’ve got Comcast Business on board and I was just telling the guys that they manage solutions to complicated problems and this place is complicated. You would think it would be simple since it’s so small, but getting the cars into the banking and everything changes and you have to manage it from a setup perspective and my guys did a great job with that."

Were you worried watching your teammates make their final laps that they could knock you off the pole?

“The trick is not to watch. I was half paying attention, but I don’t really want to know until after it’s over. It means so much to get a pole, especially at a place like this and competing against these guys – if you look up and down this line, these are the best racers in the world so there’s a lot of pride doing well here at Bristol."

MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Starting Position: 2nd

How was the car in qualifying and are you pleased with the second-place starting position?

“We were just a little off. These guys did a great job with our Dollar General Camry today. Obviously, all of the JGR cars were fast again so thanks to everyone who’s building these things and TRD (Toyota Racing Development) with the engines. In the first round we were pretty good we thought and then the second round we tried something and we were too tight and then the third round we were a little too loose really. We were just that much off, but overall it was a great day and we’ll still get a good pit stop and a good place to start and hopefully we’ll get it driving good tomorrow and we can race them on Sunday."

Results

Pos. # Driver Manufacturer Sponsor Speed Time Behind
1 19 Carl Edwards Toyota COMCAST BUSINESS 127.997 14.991 Leader
2 20 Matt Kenseth Toyota Dollar General 127.419 15.059 0.068
3 22 Joey Logano Ford AutoTrader 127.191 15.086 0.095
4 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Freight 126.804 15.132 0.141
5 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 126.553 15.162 0.171
6 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 126.461 15.173 0.182
7 4 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Ditech 126.112 15.215 0.224
8 78 Martin Truex Jr Toyota Furniture Row 126.021 15.226 0.235
9 47 AJ Allmendinger Chevrolet Bush's Beans 125.815 15.251 0.26
10 6 Trevor Bayne Ford Advocare Ford Fusion 125.815 15.251 0.26
11 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet Great Clips 125.732 15.261 0.27
12 2 Brad Keselowski Ford Miller Lite 125.691 15.266 0.275
13 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet McDonald's 125.486 15.291 0.3
14 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Tarkett / Menards 125.461 15.294 0.303
15 3 Austin Dillon Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Ranger Boats 125.436 15.297 0.306
16 13 Casey Mears Chevrolet GEICO 125.42 15.299 0.308
17 31 Ryan Newman Chevrolet WIX 125.354 15.307 0.316
18 21 Ryan Blaney Ford Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire + Auto Center 125.33 15.31 0.319
19 24 Chase Elliott Chevrolet Kelley Blue Book 125.134 15.334 0.343
20 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet Nationwide 125.052 15.344 0.353
21 34 Chris Buescher Ford Love’s Travel Stops 124.995 15.351 0.36
22 43 Aric Almirola Ford Smithfield 124.979 15.353 0.362
23 16 Greg Biffle Ford Roush Performance Ford Fusion 124.597 15.4 0.409
24 23 David Ragan Toyota Dr. Pepper 124.46 15.417 0.426
25 42 Kyle Larson Chevrolet Target 126.021 15.226 0.235
26 41 Kurt Busch Chevrolet Haas Automation / Monster Energy 125.831 15.249 0.258
27 44 Brian Scott Ford Shore Lodge 125.773 15.256 0.265
28 38 Landon Cassill Ford Snap Fitness 125.675 15.268 0.277
29 7 Regan Smith Chevrolet APC Chevrolet 125.642 15.272 0.281
30 83 Matt DiBenedetto Toyota Cosmo Motors 125.592 15.278 0.287
31 95 Michael McDowell Chevrolet KLove Radio Chevrolet SS 125.281 15.316 0.325
32 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Ford Zest Ford Fusion 125.207 15.325 0.334
33 10 Danica Patrick Chevrolet Nature's Bakery 125.003 15.35 0.359
34 14 Ty Dillon Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats 124.379 15.427 0.436
35 30 Josh Wise Chevrolet Curtis Key Plumbing 124.242 15.444 0.453
36 15 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 5-Hour Energy 124.146 15.456 0.465
37 32 Jeffrey Earnhardt Ford KEEN PARTS/VISONE RV 123.308 15.561 0.57
38 55 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet ChampionMachinery.com 123.245 15.569 0.578
39 98 Cole Whitt Chevrolet TBA 122.803 15.625 0.634
40 46 Michael Annett Chevrolet Pilot Flying J 122.263 15.694 0.703

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