Before Sprint Cup Series qualifying, Carl Edwards asked crew chief Darian Grubb what the plan was. Grubb’s response was “Make it to the top 12.” Not only did Edwards do just that, but he put his No. 19 Stanley Toyota on the pole for the 22nd running of the Brickyard 400.
The pole is Edwards’s second consecutive pole of the season and puts Joe Gibbs Racing in a position to break the Chevrolet stranglehold at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Chevrolet has won all but five of the 21 races in the track’s history in the Sprint Cup Series, including the last 12. Edwards’s best finish at the famed 2.5-mile track is second back in 2008.
Joey Logano qualified second with a time of 49.143 seconds, nearly a tenth off Edwards’s time (49.056 seconds). David Ragan, who started on the pole for the Brickyard 400 in 2011, qualified his No. 55 Aaron’s Toyota in third.
Perhaps the biggest story from qualifying may be the impressive showing by Indiana native Tony Stewart. Stewart, who has had a disappointing season to say the least, was the fastest in the first round of qualifying and was fourth in the second round. Stewart, a three-time Sprint Cup champion, has won at Indianapolis twice in his career (2005 and 2007) and a third win on Sunday would put him into the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson qualified fifth in the No. 42 Target Chevrolet. 2003 Brickyard winner Kevin Harvick was sixth fastest and preceded Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch and 2010 Brickyard 400 race winner Jamie McMurray.
Sunday’s 400-mile, 160-lap race will be the final time Jeff Gordon will race in Indianapolis. The inaugural Brickyard 400 winner will start 19th and will attempt to win a record sixth race at the Indiana racetrack. The driver who will race the No. 24 at Indianapolis next year, Chase Elliott, will start 28th.
The Sprint Cup Series will be racing a high-drag package on Sunday in an attempt to improve the competition on a track that normally has lots of single-file racing. Among other changes, the most notable difference on the cars will be on the spoiler, which has been extended to a height of nine inches.
The Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard can be seen live this Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.