Carl Edwards came out on top in qualifying for this weekend's Duck Commander 500 night race at Texas Motor Speedway, beating Penske's Joey Logano to pole by 0.187s.
Edwards recorded a time of 27.748s (194.609mph) on the 1.5 mile banked oval to claim his 17th pole in 416 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. It's the Joe Gibbs Racing driver's first pole of the season, and his second in 23 outings at Texas.
"I like it here, I really enjoy Texas," said the 36 year old, who got to fire off a shotgun as part of the pole celebrations. "I have a lot of friends here. This is a fun place to race.
"The tyre, I don't know what the other guys feel, the tyre and downforce package for me lets me feel like I can go into the corner and move around and feel the tire underneath me. Even in qualifying, there were times when I got a little sideways and it slid a little bit and I could recover and that's really fun as a race car driver. Hopefully the race goes well."
Logano was annoyed to narrowly miss out on the top spot in qualifying, which consisted of three elimination rounds.
"It wasn't enough, but, overall, I'm proud of the effort," he insisted. "Going to sleep last night that we had a car that could quite possibly be on the pole today. We came close. Every round we were definitely pretty fast and we were really good in one and two the first two rounds, and three and four we lost quite a bit of speed to the #19.
"The last run was the complete opposite," he continued. "I went into one and two and it didn't turn like it was, and then we fixed the car in three and four to where it did what it needed to do down there. I just kind of flip-flopped the last round. I was second either way, apparently, but if we could have had both we would have had something for Carl.
"Second is not awful. It's not the best, but it's close to it at least. We'll have a good pit stall and look forward to the race. It's going to be a lot of fun out there."
Having topped the times in both of this weekend's practice sessions, Furniture Row Racing's Martin Truex Jr. managed to secure a second row start in third place alongside Hendrick Motorsport's Chase Elliott.
"It was a good run for us," said Truex who exactly equalled Logano's lap time in the final top 12 pole shoot-out round. "I guess we're tied for second, which means we'll start third. All in all, happy with that.
"We missed it a little bit from yesterday, I thought we were really good yesterday and the track was a little faster today and moved on us a little bit. I felt like we had a shot at the pole today, but the #19 put a heck of a lap down, so proud for him."
"I'm really proud of the improvements we made from round 1 all the way through round 3," contributed Elliott. "I'm very excited that we made the third round and was able to get a nice top five starting spot.
"It's nice to have a good starting spot, but the most important thing is to be good in the race," he added. "A lot of night racing that you do, short track racing, or even a lot of the NASCAR stuff you practice during the day and race at night. I'm very glad we have this night practice session to get our car, at least you can get it consistent conditions for what you might see tomorrow night, hopefully. We need to make the most of this practice, try to get our car driving the best we can to be good tomorrow night. That is the most important thing."
The third row will be shared by Roush Fenway Racing's Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and JGR's Denny Hamlin, while Wood Brother Racing's Ryan Blaney will start alongside Penske's Brad Keselowski on row four. The top ten is rounded out by JGR's Matt Kenseth and Richard Childress Racing's Austin Dillon.
"I felt we weren't as fast on the speed chart yesterday, but I felt really good about it," insisted Stenhouse. "We're close to second, not close to Carl there, but I'm definitely happy with our Zest Fusion. Hopefully, we'll get it dialled in here. It's going to be a long race and I think we're going to wear the tyres out a lot."
"It's not bad I guess," said Blaney. "We got a little bit better each time. It's just at the end we just didn't have a ton of grip. It was really close from second on back and we didn't quite have enough there. Everyone was slower except the #19. Maybe we didn't make the right adjustments before the final round."
"The speed was pretty good for as far as I felt the balance was off," noted Kenseth. "We've been kind of off since we got here. Actually to be ninth with what it felt like wasn't too bad."
"It was pretty good," echoed Dillon. "We just tightened up too much that last run. I couldn't get turned. We will learn for next time. It was good to get to the third round again and we will just keep working."
Also making it through to the first round were Hendrick's Jimmie Johnson and Roush's Trevor Bayne, who scrapped into the pole shoot-out by pipping Brian Vickers by just one thousandths of a second. Vickers had earlier come fastest in the first round of qualifying, but wasn't able to repeat that form in the second.
"It's days like this you wish it was the old format, where it was just one and done and we would have the pole," said Vickers, who continues to sit-in for Tony Stewart in the #14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevy. "We just got too loose in the second session. We missed it or I missed it, one of the two. I went down in 1 and 2 and the car jumped out from underneath me. I kind of wasn't expecting it. I had a big correction and lost a lot of time. We made most of it back up down in 3 and 4 and missed it by a thousandths of a second."
Vickers will start in 13th place alongside Roush's Greg Biffle. Last week's race winner and reigning Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch also missed the cut and will start from 15th place alongside Hendrick's Dale Earnhardt Jr. whose team mate Kasey Kahne is one place further back starting next to Chip Ganassi Racing's Jamie McMurray.
Ryan Newman (RCR) starts alongside McMurray's team mate Kyle Larson on row 10 just ahead of SHR team mates Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick. Among the drivers who failed to progress from the first round were RCR's Paul Menard (25th) and SHR's Danica Patrick (26th). With 40 cars entered for this weekend's race, everyone made it onto the grid and will take the green flag
See full NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying and practice results from Texas Motor Speedway.
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