Becca Gladden · Saturday November 10, 2007
Becca Gladden is LIVE at Phoenix Raceway with all the latest news and information from the one-mile oval out West. Stay tuned to Frontstretch for live updates from the track all weekend!
Roush Racing driver Carl Edwards followed up a fast run in Friday afternoon’s Cup practice with a pole-winning lap for Sunday’s Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Edwards rounded the track with a 27.114 second lap to score his first pole of the year and, in fact, his first since 2005. Starting alongside Edwards will be DEI’s Martin Truex, Jr., who posted a lap time of 27.117 seconds.
Edwards had run second in the early practice session with a lap time of 27.343, following teammate Jamie McMurray, who paced practice with a 27.329.
There was a total of four Fords in the Top 10 in practice, including McMurray, Edwards, David Ragan at sixth and Matt Kenseth in seventh.
Also running in the Top 10 in practice was Dave Blaney, the fastest Toyota, who ran third, along with GM drivers Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer, and Kyle Busch. Kyle’s brother Kurt ran 10th in a Dodge.
Much of the focus during qualifying today was on Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, battling each other for the Cup championship, with Johnson currently leading Gordon by 30 points.
In practice, Johnson was fifth on the speed charts and Gordon 14th, but they swapped roles in qualifying, with Gordon running third and Johnson sixth.
There were several surprises among the Top 10 qualifiers including Phoenix native J.J. Yeley, whose 27.224 lap put him fourth on the speed charts. It is Yeley’s highest starting spot since scoring the pole at Michigan back in June.
Also starting in the Top 10 are Johnny Sauter in fifth, Greg Biffle in seventh, Tony Raines in eighth, Kurt Busch in ninth, and Kasey Kahne in 10th.
Five Chase drivers qualified among the Top 10, while on the other end of the spectrum, Chaser Kevin Harvick timed in at 34th and Kyle Busch, 38th.
Although he paced the morning practice session, Jamie McMurray was just 23rd-fastest in qualifying. Greg Biffle is the only Ford driver starting in the Top 10 with Dave Blaney the fastest Toyota at 17th.
Juan Pablo Montoya was the quickest rookie around the race track in qualifying and will start 14th on Sunday. Fellow open-wheel racers Patrick Carpentier, Sam Hornish, Jr. and Jacques Villeneuve all made the race as well. Sunday will be Hornish’s first Cup start, having failed to qualify in his first six attempts to make the Cup field. Carpentier and Villeneuve are each starting their second Cup race.
Johnny Benson will start 30th in the No. 36 360 OTC Toyota which had been piloted most of this season by Jeremy Mayfield prior to his move to the No. 66 car a few weeks ago.
David Ragan and David Gilliland both made the field using provisionals based on their position in owner points. Drivers who failed to qualify were Michael Waltrip, A.J. Allmendinger, Ward Burton, John Andretti, Dale Jarrett, and David Reutimann.
Track temperature played a role in today’s qualifying as the track temperature cooled more than 15 degrees from the start of the session to the end. Though the ambient temperature remained close to 90 degrees, cooler temperatures are in the forecast for race day, which should help teams that are still searching for grip around this slick one-mile track.
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