Carl Edwards earned his third pole position of the season during Saturday's Coors Light Pole qualifying at Sonoma Raceway. The wheelman of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota topped the speed charts at a blistering 95.777 mph.
California native AJ Allmendinger was second-quickest during the two-round session in his No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet (95.676 mph).
Coca-Cola 600 winner Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top three, propelling his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota around the road course at 95.672 mph.
The No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet of Kurt Busch (95.654 mph) and the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet of Kyle Larson (95.362 mph) took fourth and fifth, respectively.
Defending race winner Kyle Busch was eighth in his No. 18 JGR Toyota (95.233 mph).
Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Tony Stewart (95.041 mph) and Danica Patrick (95.035 mph) will line up for the Toyota-Save Mart 350 alongside one another after scoring the 10th and 11th-fastest speeds, respectively.
The 40-car field returns to the track for Sunday's main event in Wine Country at 3 p.m. ET (FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
CARL EDWARDS, No. 19 Stanley Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Starting Position: 1st
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]How did you feel about the lap that got you the pole for tomorrow’s race?
“That was good. 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. I just can’t say enough about Stanley and all the things they’re doing for us. We had a dinner last night for us and this will be really exciting for them to have their Stanley Toyota up on the pole for the start of the race and hopefully we can stay there and get another win."
Where do you need to improve for the race?
“The long run, we fell off pretty hard. We have to improve and I’ve got to do a good job managing the car and not getting frustrated. It looked like there were a couple cars – the 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) was really good in the long run and Martin (Truex Jr.) looked really good, Denny (Hamlin) looked good so I’ve got to step up my game a little bit there, but I think we’re going to be alright."
How special is it to get the pole at Sonoma?
“I just can’t say enough about my guys, my car is fast and my Stanley Toyota is good. We’re out here in Toyota country – TRD’s David Wilson (president) came over and it’s cool to have a Toyota on the pole for the Toyota SaveMart 350 and I just can’t say enough about Stanley. We had a dinner last night with Stanley and they love being here. Just cool having them all here and hopefully we can get a win for them. This place is so much fun and just so cool. After that first lap, I have to be honest, I sat here and thought, ‘Man, I’m really going to screw this up on the second one because that was really good.’ I’m glad we hung on for the pole and just really excited."
What has made you so strong this season?
“Dave (Rogers, crew chief) is unreal. I’m just so fortunate to have him and have everybody at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing). It’s so neat and my teammates have helped me a ton and I just hope we can put this together for another win."
How strong is your race car?
“We have a very fast race car and the first round went really well. I went out there and probably made one of the better laps that I’ve ever run here and I didn’t need that 10 or 15 minute break – that gave me a lot of time to think about my laps and so the second lap actually went really well, but I thought it was a little faster than that. We kind of narrowly got the pole. I’m really proud of my guys. We’ve got a fast race car and we have a lot of folks from Stanley here so it’s really special to be able to start up front for them. They’ll be here tomorrow and we had dinner with them last night and they’re just so excited to be part of this sport and be out here for the first time – they have a lot of first time race attendees so it will be a good time."
Do you consider yourself a favorite to win tomorrow?
“I think every guy that is starting this race, every guy and girl is looking at themselves as a favorite. I really do believe our cars are fast, I believe I have the best guys on the box, the best pit crew and we’re here to win this race. That win here in 2014 was so cool. This place is so tough and it’s been so tough for me that a win would be spectacular. I really think it’s going to be a tough race. It’s going to be hot, it’s going to be difficult. I believe this package with the tires that we have is going to put it more in the driver’s hands and there’s going to be a lot of mistakes made. You’re looking at a guy that wrecked out of the race last year just by not using my head and by being too aggressive. It’s very easy to mess it up and hopefully we don’t do that and it goes well."
How were you able to be so fast in turn 11 on the lap tracker?
“I’m going to call that luck. That corner has bit me a number of different ways, you can ask some of my old crew chiefs – Bob Osborne, Jimmy Fennig and all those guys, I can’t tell you how many times on the live tracker that I’ve been on the pole until I get to turn 11 and then I really screw it up. I’ll take it today. It’s one of the interesting and most unique parts of this race track is that corner. It’s unlike anything else in our sport and the car went through there well today."
How difficult is it to analyze your first lap in the break between runs?
“It’s really tough to have a bunch of confidence in the second round at a place like this just because you don’t know what everybody’s first lap was like. These guys are so good and you look at guys like (AJ) Allmendinger and (Martin) Truex (Jr.) and Kyle Busch and Kurt (Busch) and all the guys – I could just go down the list of the top-20 or 30 guys and anyone can put together a really good lap if you give them a chance. The key here is you have to go through all these shifts all these times and brake perfectly and jump the curbs right and not make any mistakes and nobody can do it over and over and over. It’s a long version of not a ton of confidence, you just have to go out there and do it."
Are you more relaxed coming here knowing you have wins already this season?
“I’d say it’s the most relaxed I’ve been coming here. It’s fun, who doesn’t want to come out here and drive a car like this on a track like this? It’s one of the races I look forward to all year and to come here with wins already, I’ll be able to enjoy the beautiful weather and drive the cars like we get to around here. There’s no other track that you get to drive like this. You really get to – no lap is perfect here, like I said, you’re bouncing off of curbs, you’re sliding around, you’re spinning the tires, you’re locking up brakes and this is what driving a race car is about. I think all of us in the Joe Gibbs camp are able to come out here and just have a good time."
What grade would you give your team at the halfway point this season?
“I give our team an ‘A.’ We’ve been doing really well and the part that I’m most excited about is how we work together. Inside the 19 team and at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) as a whole. It’s really cool. Dave Rogers (crew chief) has been amazing and I’ve got to know him really well and that’s been really fun. We’ve spent a lot of time together even outside of the race track with Dave and with the team. I feel like we’ve got all the pieces in place so I’ve been enjoying it and it’s gone by really fast. It just feels like the season just started and I’m looking forward to the Chase. This is going to be a lot of fun."
AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 47 RALPH’S/KINGSFORD CHEVROLET SS – Qualified 2nd
YOU DIDN’T WIN THE POLE, BUT YOU LOOKED IMPRESSIVE:
“Honestly, for where we were yesterday; it was a struggle yesterday. We just never could really find the direction of the car. All my guys did a great job to get to work and get this Kroger/Kingsford Chevy closer to the front. When I saw Carl (Edwards) first lap, I kind of said I don’t care what kind of lap I run. If he runs that again, I’m not going to get close. And then I saw it was less than a tenth. I always nitpick, but it was a big gain from where we were yesterday. 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."
YOU SET THE BENCHMARK FOR SPEED ON THE ROAD COURSE RACES. IS IT TOUGH NOT TO PUT MORE PRESSURE ON YOURSELF, KNOWING THAT YOU CAN DEFINITELY EXCEL AND MAYBE SCORE A WIN?
“No pressure on me. He’s won here before. My best is seventh. I don’t know why they keep polling me for speed. We’ve had chances but we’ve just got to go out and have a solid day. As my team owners always tell me, all we can do is go out there and push hard and do our best and if that end result is in Victory Lane, great; if it’s not and we have a solid day, that’s all we can do."
MARTIN TRUEX, JR., No. 78 Furniture Row Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing
Starting Position: 3rd
How was your qualifying run?
“I thought we had it, thought we had a shot at it – I know we had a shot at it obviously being second in the first round. Knew a few spots on the track I could do a better job driving. Made a few adjustments on the car and felt like I could make up some time. Really had it all put together going into turn 11 and just missed it by six inches down there and got it a little bit tight and had to wait on the gas. If you don’t get off that corner, you lose a lot of time coming to the start-finish line. Felt like we had a really good lap in our Furniture Row Camry going. All in all, it was my best qualifying effort here and this is typically a place we race well, just don’t qualify well so I’m looking forward to tomorrow."
|2||47||AJ Allmendinger||Chevrolet||Ralph's / Kingsford||95.676||74.878||0.079|
|3||78||Martin Truex Jr||Toyota||Furniture Row||95.672||74.881||0.082|
|4||41||Kurt Busch||Chevrolet||Monster Energy / Haas Automation Chevrolet SS||95.654||74.895||0.096|
|6||11||Denny Hamlin||Toyota||FedEx Cares||95.308||75.167||0.368|
|7||22||Joey Logano||Ford||Shell Pennzoil||95.276||75.192||0.393|
|8||18||Kyle Busch||Toyota||M&M's 75th Anniversary||95.233||75.226||0.427|
|10||14||Tony Stewart||Chevrolet||Code 3 Assoc / Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS||95.041||75.378||0.579|
|11||10||Danica Patrick||Chevrolet||Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS||95.035||75.383||0.584|
|12||2||Brad Keselowski||Ford||Alliance Truck Parts||94.967||75.437||0.638|
|13||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr||Chevrolet||Axalta||95.329||75.15||0.351|
|17||31||Ryan Newman||Chevrolet||WIX Filters||94.906||75.485||0.686|
|18||15||Clint Bowyer||Chevrolet||5-Hour Energy||94.897||75.492||0.693|
|19||5||Kasey Kahne||Chevrolet||Great Clips||94.886||75.501||0.702|
|20||95||Michael McDowell||Chevrolet||KLOVE Radio Chevy SS||94.817||75.556||0.757|
|22||44||Brian Scott||Ford||Safeway / Blu Emu||94.704||75.646||0.847|
|23||20||Matt Kenseth||Toyota||Dollar General||94.521||75.793||0.994|
|24||3||Austin Dillon||Chevrolet||Dow / Utility Trailers||94.501||75.809||1.01|
|25||4||Kevin Harvick||Chevrolet||Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS||94.445||75.854||1.055|
|26||21||Ryan Blaney||Ford||Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire + Auto Center||94.436||75.861||1.062|
|27||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr||Ford||Fastenal Ford Fusion||94.422||75.872||1.073|
|28||6||Trevor Bayne||Ford||Advocare Ford Fusion||94.401||75.889||1.09|
|30||23||David Ragan||Toyota||Dr. Pepper||94.356||75.925||1.126|
|31||7||Regan Smith||Chevrolet||Nikko RC / Road Rippers Monster Shark Chevrolet||94.271||75.994||1.195|
|32||16||Greg Biffle||Ford||Performance Plus Motor Oil Ford Fusion||94.207||76.045||1.246|
|33||83||Matt DiBenedetto||Toyota||Dustless Blasting||94.154||76.088||1.289|
|34||32||Patrick Carpentier||Ford||Can – Am||93.858||76.328||1.529|
|36||34||Chris Buescher||Ford||Love’s Travel Stops||93.657||76.492||1.693|
|37||38||Landon Cassill||Ford||MDS Transport||93.257||76.82||2.021|
|38||93||Dylan Lupton||Toyota||Bell Brothers Plumbing, Healting & Air / Elk Grove Toyota||93.082||76.964||2.165|
|39||30||Josh Wise||Chevrolet||Curtis Key Plumbing||93.027||77.01||2.211|
|40||46||Michael Annett||Chevrolet||Pilot Flying J||91.997||77.872||3.073|