BRISTOL, Tenn.– Carl Edwards will lead the field to the green flag on Sunday at Thunder Valley.
The driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota scored the pole for the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway with a time of 14.991 and a speed of 127.997 mph. This is his 18th career pole in 417 starts in the Sprint Cup Series.
He described taking the pole position as, “Just awesome, what Comcast Business does is they find solutions for complex problems and this place is really complicated and my guys did a really good job making the car drive well on all different segments. When you’re driving in the corner and these things take off and slide and Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and everybody did a really great job. It’s really cool to get this pole.”
Defending race winner Matt Kenseth will start second in his No. 20 JGR Toyota after posting a time of 15.059 and a speed of 127.419 mph.
“We were just a little off,” Kenseth said. “These guys did a great job with our Dollar General Camry today. Obviously, all of the JGR cars were fast again so thanks to everyone who’s building these things and TRD (Toyota Racing Development) with the engines. In the first round we were pretty good we thought and then the second round we tried something and we were too tight and then the third round we were a little too loose really. We were just that much off, but overall it was a great day and we’ll still get a good pit stop and a good place to start and hopefully we’ll get it driving good tomorrow and we can race them on Sunday.”
Joey Logano will start third in his No. 22 Team Penske Ford after posting a time of 15.086 and a speed of 127.191 mph.
“It’s always exciting qualifying here at Bristol,” Logano said. “I’m not sure I’m holding my breath, but I’m breathing really hard when I’m done, so I’m thinking I probably do hold my breath. Things happen so quick around this race track and we’ve got a really good AutoTrader Fusion. We were close. We won the first session. We were second in the second session and in the third session we were third, so we just kept losing a little bit. Overall, I’m proud of the effort and it’s obviously a decent starting spot for a 500-lap race.”
Denny Hamlin will start fourth in his No. 11 JGR Toyota after posting a time of 15.132 and a speed of 126.804 mph.
“The car has good speed and that’s one good thing about it,” Hamlin said. “The FedEx Freight car has really had good speed all day. Those last two rounds definitely didn’t go the way we had hoped – the track changed a little bit there and we didn’t quite keep up with it. Overall, pretty happy with the effort. That will get us a good pit stall hopefully and we can have a smooth 500 laps around here Sunday.”
Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five starters in his No. 18 JGR Toyota after posting a time of 15.162 and a speed of 126.553 mph.
“We’re alright, the second round was really good and not sure what happened in the third round,” Busch said. “Just missed the speed we were looking for and got real loose on entry. Didn’t make up a whole lot of time from the loose on entry on the exit.”
Jimmie Johnson will start sixth in his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
“I’m excited about how comfortable the car has been, the speed that we have had in it,” Johnson said. “Practice sessions can be quite frustrating for us here and qualifying sessions. To be off to a good, calm, smooth, fast start is really good for us.”
Kevin Harvick will start seventh in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet.
“I’m really happy with where we qualified as bad as it drove on entry,” Harvick said. “We just had a loose into the corner that we hadn’t really expected. They made some good adjustments and we were able to salvage a decent position and get a good spot. Hopefully, we will make it better than it was in race trim in practice tomorrow.”
Martin Truex Jr. will start eighth in his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota. AJ Allmendinger will start ninth in his No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet.
“Overall, just getting better in all of qualifying,” Allmendinger said. “We have made the second round every race so far, which heck, we weren’t even close to that last year. I think we have made the third round at least close to half. It’s a big deal. We are just getting more speed in the cars, trying to learn how to get through these three rounds of qualifying. The guys that do it every weekend they know what tire pressure, what to do to keep up with the race track as the tires go off. There are definitely a couple of cars that are way quick, but to be top 10 at Bristol in qualifying is a huge deal. Everybody gets lapped pretty quickly here, so hopefully we can stay up front and keep working on the car. We have some room to improve for sure. It’s getting good.”
Trevor Bayne rounded out the top-10 qualifiers in his No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford.
“That’s a pleasant surprise for our race team,” Bayne said. “Coming to a short track we know that’s not our strongest suit, especially in qualifying when you’re asking the most out of the race car. Normally, we can make the long run speed, but to have short run speed and get a good qualifying spot here at Bristol is a big deal. Track position is always huge. Starting 10th, we’re on the outside lane. As the race progresses you definitely want to be on the outside on restarts. I’m just really proud of this team. Last year, I would have been throwing a party right now if we were top 10 in qualifying here. The fact that I’m not jumping around and acting crazy is that we’re getting immune to running well and that’s a good thing. We keep pushing that needle every week. Last week was one of our strongest runs that we’ve had all season, and I thought we had a top-5 car, so to come to Bristol and keep building on that and have consistency to be able to do it every week and not be so hit or miss, it’s come a long way for this AdvoCare team and I can’t be more proud of my guys.”
Kasey Kahne will start 11th in his No. 5 HMS Chevrolet. Brad Keselowski rounded out the 12 drivers that made the final round of qualifying in his No. 2 Penske Ford.
During round 1, Ty Dillon got loose exiting turn 2, slid down the track and slammed into the rear of Landon Cassill’s car.
When asked if he could’ve avoided being hit, Cassill said he “wasn’t looking in my mirror. If I would have seen a car sideways at the right time, I probably would have tried to speed up. I don’t know how much that could have helped me, but it’s bad timing on my part, I guess.”
Neither will go to a backup car.
“It’s quite a bit of damage to the right-rear,” Cassill said. “It’s gonna be a lot of work for the guys to fix it, but it’s pretty much just cosmetic, so we’ll get it fixed, I think.”C1608_STARTROW