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Edwards on pole for title decider

Carl Edwards sent out a message to Cup rival Tony Stewart with a convincing pole position for Sunday's championship-deciding season finale at Homestead-Miami.
Going into arguably the most important race of his professional driving career, Carl Edwards couldn't have got a better boost or sent out a clearer message, when he sped to pole position for the Ford 400 season finale by 0.116s over Martin Truex Jr.

By contrast, his 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup title rival Tony Stewart will be starting from 15th position at Homestead-Miami Speedway, an oval that has always been a happy hunting ground for Ford drivers - and for Carl Edwards in particular.

"It is great to be on the pole," said Edwards after qualifying was over. "Things are good. Today went really well. I felt like our car was very fast in practice in race trim; I wasn't really sure what to expect in qualifying trim, but that was a very pleasant surprise to run that well ... It looked like there were a lot of fast cars in practice - it didn't look like we were head and shoulders better than anyone else."

But as delighted as he was to draw first blood in the title decider, Edwards was all too aware that this was just the start of a long battle to come on Sunday afternoon.

"I do think that of all the tracks it would be nice to have a big advantage in qualifying at some of them, but this one you can pass at, so if there are faster race cars out there, they'll be able to make it through the field," he said, far from writing off Stewart's prospects of coming right back through the field from 15th place.

"The biggest thing [about taking pole] is that pit stall selection. That's gonna be a big help the whole race. That's something that's hard to put a value on," he said, adding: "That truly is just one lap, though ... this doesn't dampen the amount of effort we're gonna go out and put forth. We still have to go out and race this race."

Equally, Tony Stewart wasn't about to let 15th place - his lowest qualifying position in the last five races - get him down. “Well, the qualifying deal isn't how our race is going to play out," he stressed. "This is one lap of how many hundred miles we've got to go. I don't know where we're going to end up here, but it looks like we're going to be solid. That's the main thing.

"We didn't have a pole-winning car today," he admitted, but he was confident that his #14 Office Depot Chevrolet car "is pretty good in race trim. I'm glad we spent more time working on race trim than qualifying trim. So, we'll see how it plays out ... We'll know in 399 miles. I'll let you know after that.”

Pointing out that poles do not correlate with wins - "I've won 13 poles in 13 years, and I've won [43] races now, proving that you don't have to do it from the pole" - Stewart added "don't start etching his name on the trophy yet."




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Carl Edwards hustles his #99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford through turn one Saturday, Nov. 19 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Edwards was fastest in final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, just ahead of teammate David Ragan. [Photo Credit: By Chris Trotman, Getty Images for NASCAR]
Carl Edwards prepares to race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 500 on Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz. [Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Darrell Wallace Jr. , driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, celebrates after winning the Camping World Truck 2nd Annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on July 23, 2014 in Rossburg, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, does a burnout after winning the Camping World Truck 2nd Annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on July 23, 2014 in Rossburg, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, celebrates after winning the Camping World Truck 2nd Annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on July 23, 2014 in Rossburg, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, celebrates after winning the Camping World Truck 2nd Annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on July 23, 2014 in Rossburg, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Tony Stewart presents Darrell Wallace Jr. , driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, with the trophy after winning the Camping World Truck 2nd Annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on July 23, 2014 in Rossburg, Ohio.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, wins the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 2nd Annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on July 23, 2014 in Rossburg, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Crew chief Chad Knaus inspects the car of Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, after a crash during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, lead the field at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, crashes in the early part of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, and Erik Jones, driver of the #51 ToyotaCare Toyota, lead the field during a restart of the American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway on July 11, 2014 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald`s Chevrolet SS, qualifies fifth Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, qualifies fourth Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, qualifies second Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, qualifies second Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
 
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, qualifies second Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
 
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, qualifies fourth Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
 
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald`s Chevrolet SS, qualifies fifth Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, right, poses with Miss Coors Light Rachel Rupert and the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 11, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, lead a group of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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