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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]
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet, races during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 22, 2015 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS finishes in sixth place and Paul Menard, driver of the #27 FVP/Menards Chevrolet SS finishes in fourth place Sunday, March 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS finishes in eighth place Sunday, March 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Paul Menard, driver of the #27 FVP/Menards Chevrolet SS finishes in fourth place and Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS finishes in fourteenth place Sunday, March 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS finishes in third place and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS finishes in second place Sunday, March 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS qualifies for fifth position Friday, March 20, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Larson is 17th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS qualifies for 2nd position Friday, March 20, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Harvick leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Joining him on the front row will be Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS who won the Pole position. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS celebrates with his team after winning the Pole position Friday, March 20, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Busch is 33rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Joining him on the front row will be Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS won the Pole position Friday, March 20, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Busch is 33rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Joining him on the front row will be Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row / Visser Precision Chevrolet, stands in the garage area prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2015 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, poses for a photo with Miss Coors Light Rachel Rupert after winning the pole during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2015 in Fontana, California.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brian Vickers, driver of the #55 Aaron`s Dream Machine Toyota, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 13, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS celebrates his victory Sunday, March 15, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Speedway in Phoenix, Arizona. This is Harvick`s fourth straight win at Phoenix. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS races to victory Sunday, March 15, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Speedway in Phoenix, Arizona. This is Harvick`s fourth straight win at Phoenix. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS stops in his pit before victory Sunday, March 15, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Speedway in Phoenix, Arizona. This is Harvick`s fourth straight win at Phoenix. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS crosses the finish line Sunday, March 15, 2015 winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Speedway in Phoenix, Arizona. This is Harvick`s fourth straight win at Phoenix. This is Harvick`s fourth straight win at Phoenix. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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