Talk about redemption - some seven hours and myriad raindrops after failing to get their entry to the starting grid for Saturday's Grand-Am race, Marcos Ambrose and Carl Edwards overcame wet conditions to grab the front row for Sunday's Napa Auto Parts 200 Nationwide Series race.

Ambrose took at pole at 80.905 mph at 2.709-mile Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, and Edwards claimed the second starting position at 80.116 mph, after crashing during warmup laps the Kevin Doran-owned Rolex Grand-Am car he and Ambrose were to share for the race.

Ron Fellows (79.717 mph), last year's race winner, qualified third, followed by Boris Said (78.902 mph) and Brad Coleman (78.837 mph).

Jacques Villeneuve, Justin Marks, Antonio Perez, Andrew Ranger and Paul Menard will start from positions six through ten, respectively.

Said, however, will start from the rear of the field after blowing an engine during his qualifying run.

Ambrose went out in the second of eight groups under the Nationwide road-course qualifying format, which features five- and six-car groups on the track at the same time. Edwards qualified in Group 6, and might have won the pole had he not been slowed by Jean Francois Dumoulin on his fourth and final lap.

"Can you believe it?" Ambrose said. "We go in the sports car race, and it ends so badly for us, and then we come out and lock the front row for the Nationwide race. It may be karma - I don't know. I just feel really badly for Kevin Doran and the whole team there, because we destroyed that car for them. But we've gone from zero to hero."

Edwards acknowledged that Dumoulin might have cost him the pole, but considering the events earlier in the day, Edwards was fine with the outcome.

"Today did not start out well," Edwards said. "Marcos Ambrose and Kevin Doran and all the guys put together a great Daytona Prototype car, and we worked really hard on it, and I put it in the fence before the race even started.

"So it's kind of fitting. I would have loved to have been on the pole today, but I took Marcos' opportunity to race - at all - in that race. He had his suit on and everything. He looked like the kid who woke up on the 24th of December and thought it was Christmas and found out it wasn't. He got the pole, and it probably worked out well. I owed him one - but now we're even."

Meanwhile Jeffrey Earnhardt, making his second start in the Nationwide Series - and his second on a road course - was the victim of an off-road excursion in Saturday morning's practice session, but afterwards neither the driver nor the car was worse for wear.

"I hit a puddle of water and just hydroplaned and went straight into the wall," Earnhardt said. "It wasn't too bad. It was just body damage, and we've got it fixed now."

Earnhardt's assessment was on the money. He qualified the #40 Key Motorsports Chevrolet in 25th place for Sunday's race.

by Reid Spencer



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