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Rain hands Edwards Martinsville pole

29 October 2011

Light rain showers hit Martinsville Speedway from early on Friday and led to the cancellation of all morning activities, and while conditions briefly improved in the afternoon to allow the Camping World Truck Series to get out on track for a single practice session, more rain then moved in and the planned Sprint Cup track activity had to be cancelled for the day.

Conditions were still wet in Virginia on Saturday morning after over a centimetre of overnight rainfall, leading to NASCAR having to abandon plans to squeeze in qualifying in a tentatively rescheduled program of events. With no Friday practice session order to fall back on to set the starting grid, NASCAR had to go 'old school' and revert to how it used to be done - by car owner points.

That means that all 12 Chase contenders will line up on the front six rows of the grid for Sunday's Tums Fast Relief 500 Cup, with Carl Edwards starting alongside Roush Fenway team mate Matt Kenseth on the front row and Brad Keselowski and Tony Stewart immediately behind.

"Qualifying, I think, is one of the most important parts of this race and it's no secret that's been a tough thing for me and Matt as well, so I think it's best-case for us," admitted Edwards, who will be starting from pole for the first time in his career at Martinsville. "Even better is the pit stall selection."

"I don't think I've ever qualified good here. I'm pretty sure we never qualified in the top ten here if we had to get the car on the track," agreed Kenseth, but he was more worried about what the track will be like when they finally get any running on it. "I don't think any of us have any idea [about the track] because we haven't practiced yet."

Edwards was more laid back about the current lack of practice, saying he had complete faith in his crew chief Bob Osborne. "I think Bob does a really good job of predicting the setup and I think if we had no practice - and it looks like we're gonna have practice - but if we had no practice I would be fine with that. I think it would give us a little advantage. That's my opinion, so I wouldn't be worried about it."

With forecasts suggesting that skies will gradually clear and that the rain will stop and the sun come out, NASCAR was planning to run qualifying for the Truck Series race and then hold a single Cup practice session shortly after noon. Organisers prioritised practice over qualifying as the teams will be running a new Goodyear tyre specification at Martinsville that only a small handful of drivers have had testing experience of to date.

The organisers then need to fit in the Truck Series Kroger 200 race before the end of the day, which will be a squeeze if the rain returns as the Martinsville half-mile oval does not have floodlights for night time racing, which means the race has to be run and finished by around 6.30pm local time.

The forecast is much better for Sunday and rain is unlikely to be a factor for the race itself, which starts at 1.30pm local time. In the UK, NASCAR Sprint Cup races are shown live on subscription satellite channel Premier Sport TV.

There is no NASCAR Nationwide Series race this weekend.

Full starting grid positions available.


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