Sprint Cup Championship points leader Carl Edwards secured a second consecutive pole position at Phoenix International Raceway, setting a new record time for a lap of the the one-mile oval in the process - 26.224s easily surpassing the latest record set in practice on Friday by Kurt Busch of 26.366s, and well ahead of Edwards' own pole position time of 26.395s set last November during the Chase.

This was the first qualifying session to be run according to the new NASCAR rules introduced at the start of the year, in which the qualifying runs are conducted slowest-to-fastest according to the times set in Friday practice.

"This new qualifying format is a little stressful," said Edwards. "I had to watch Kyle go, and I know how fast he was, and then Kurt was screaming fast [in practice on Friday], so he had me stressed out a little bit," adding: "It's fortunate we were able to sit on the pole."

Kurt Busch was still fast in qualifying and will start alongside Edwards on the front row of the grid on Sunday, but admitted that missing the pole was "a bummer" although "we're happy with our run." Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch will start immediately behind them on the second row.

Juan Montoya qualified a disappointing 22nd, and reigning champion Jimmie Johnson had a lacklustre session and starts from 28th position. Daytona 500 winner could only manage 33rd on the starting grid in his backup car after crashing early on Friday, while the only car not to qualify was Brian Keselowski. His younger brother Brad starts just inside the top ten.

The driver who can perhaps boast the most impressive form so far at Phoenix this weekend is Kyle Busch. After topping the second Friday session and winning the Camping World Truck Series race in the evening, he claimed pole position for the Saturday Nationwide Series event and then proceeded to lead every single one of the race's 200 laps to claim the win ahead of Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman. None of these top four drivers have elected to win series points in the Nationwide, so the first scoring driver was Reed Sorenson in 5th. Danica Patrick finished in 17th position, with Trevor Bayne a disappointing return to earth in 31st after the heights of the Daytona 500.

Qualifying times

1. #99 Carl Edwards Ford 26.224s (Leader) 137.279mph
2. #22 Kurt Busch Dodge 26.256s (-0.032) 137.111mph
3. #4 Kasey Kahne Toyota 26.259s (-0.035) 137.096mph
4. #18 Kyle Busch Toyota 26.281s (-0.057) 136.981mph
5. #78 Regan Smith Chevrolet 26.283s (-0.059) 136.971mph
6. #20 Joey Logano Toyota 26.288s (-0.064) 136.945mph
7. #56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 26.314s (-0.09) 136.809mph
8. #1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 26.321s (-0.097) 136.773mph
9. #2 Brad Keselowski Dodge 26.322s (-0.098) 136.768mph
10. #16 Greg Biffle Ford 26.34s (-0.116) 136.674mph
11. #6 David Ragan Ford 26.346s (-0.122) 136.643mph
12. #11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 26.358s (-0.134) 136.581mph
13. #27 Paul Menard Chevrolet 26.362s (-0.138) 136.56mph
14. #39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 26.382s (-0.158) 136.457mph
15. #43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford 26.392s (-0.168) 136.405mph
16. #33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 26.407s (-0.183) 136.327mph
17. #29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 26.448s (-0.224) 136.116mph
18. #14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet 26.459s (-0.235) 136.06mph
19. #83 Brian Vickers Toyota 26.471s (-0.247) 135.998mph
20. #24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 26.515s (-0.291) 135.772mph
21. #47 Bobby Labonte Toyota 26.523s (-0.299) 135.731mph
22. #42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet 26.529s (-0.305) 135.701mph
23. #5 Mark Martin Chevrolet 26.547s (-0.323) 135.609mph
24. #17 Matt Kenseth Ford 26.553s (-0.329) 135.578mph
25. #31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet 26.556s (-0.332) 135.563mph
26. #0 David Reutimann Toyota 26.557s (-0.333) 135.557mph
27. #13 Casey Mears Toyota 26.563s (-0.339) 135.527mph
28. #48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 26.569s (-0.345) 135.496mph
29. #34 David Gilliland Ford 26.574s (-0.35) 135.471mph
30. #9 Marcos Ambrose Ford 26.574s (-0.35) 135.471mph
31. #7 Robby Gordon Dodge 26.621s (-0.397) 135.232mph
32. #87 Joe Nemechek Toyota 26.68s (-0.456) 134.932mph
33. #21 Trevor Bayne Ford 26.715s (-0.491) 134.756mph
34. #66 Michael McDowell Toyota 26.729s (-0.505) 134.685mph
35. #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 26.731s (-0.507) 134.675mph
36. #32 Mike Skinner Ford 26.811s (-0.587) 134.273mph
37. #60 Landon Cassill Toyota 26.856s (-0.632) 134.048mph
38. #46 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet 26.857s (-0.633) 134.043mph
39. #9 Bill Elliott Chevrolet 26.909s (-0.685) 133.784mph
40. #38 Travis Kvapil Ford 26.988s (-0.764) 133.393mph
41. #71 Andy Lally* Chevrolet 27.288s (-1.064) 131.926mph
42. #37 Tony Raines+ Ford 27.343s (-1.119) 131.661mph
43. #36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet 26.996s (-0.772) 133.353mph

Did Not Qualify

44. #192 Brian Keselowski* Dodge 27.431s (-1.207) 131.238mph

+ Set by Owner Points* Denotes Rookie

 

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