Saturday, November 13, 2010

Carl Edwards Captures Phoenix Sprint Cup Race Pole

Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/ Getty Images for NASCAR

The second to last race in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, the Kobalt Tools 500 at Phoenix International Raceway will be highlighted by a tight three-driver points battle for the championship. After 8 races in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup, Denny Hamlin holds a 33-point advantage on reigning champion Jimmie Johnson. Only 59 points out of the lead, Kevin Harvick (who led the points for much of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season leading up to the Chase) is still well within striking range of the Sprint Cup championship.

With 46 cars vying for the 43 positions during Coors Light Pole qualifying at Phoenix International Raceway, Carl Edwards emerged in the late proportion of the time trial session to obtain his 3rd 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup pole. Piloting his #99 Roush-Fenway Racing-backed Ford Fusion, the effort of Edwards defeated fellow Ford camp occupant AJ Allmindinger's #43 car. Lapping the one-mile desert oval in a record time of 26.395 seconds, Carl Edwards' margin of pole victory over the #43 Ford was just 0.027 of a second. 

As Allmendinger shot around the one-mile oval, he provided the second straight week for where a Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) Ford will start on the front row of the NASCAR Sprint Cup main event. Leading off with Elliott Sadler's pole at the last race in Texas, this late season performance is for sure offering a much-needed morale boost for the troubled race organization. The entire week leading up to Phoenix has been consumed with innuendo and rhetoric on the state of RPM believing the team is week-to-week. While plans for the 2011 season is still a big question mark for what form RPM will take in NASCAR Sprint Cup, the team has assured NASCAR fans their four-car stable will be present for the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In a press release, AJ Allmendinger bid strong kudos to the team behind his #43 Ford. “No matter what happens I’m just proud of everybody at Richard Petty Motorsports. There’s no secret of what we’re going through right now and it’s a tough time. All the crew guys here and all the guys at the shop listening and watching, they’re amazing people because it could easily tear this team apart." Allmendinger said.

Coming close to victory at Texas Motor Speedway last week, the Roush-Fenway Racing's #16 car driver Greg Biffle placed 4th fastest on the day to present three Fords in the top-4. Breaking a sweep was Kurt Busch and his #2 Dodge Charger. While Ford again shows some serious speed in qualifying, all four manufacturers were reasonably well represented with Jamie McMarray starting 5th on Sunday in an Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and a #00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota piloted by David Reutimann 6th.

A one-mile track, Phoenix International Raceway's flat-banking and configuration lends itself in comparison to many smaller tracks which Sprint Cup drivers would cut their racing teeth on as they progressed through the ranks. A few surprise qualifying runs came from some less familiar stars of NASCAR. Starting 8th, Regan Smith and the #78 Furniture Row Chevrolet flew around the Phoenix race track. One position below Smith, Aric Almirola took 9th place in the #9 Ford after only a handful of starts with the Richard Petty Motorsports team. In post race, Almirola commented "I was actually surprised at how fast it went for how bad it drove, to be honest."

As for the three drivers entering the Kobalt Tools 500 under the Chase points microscope, the best effort was posted by top-ranked Denny Hamlin in the qualifying session. Placing 17th in the #11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for a less than impressive time, Hamlin is starting at least four positions ahead his point rivals. In 21st place, Jimmie Johnson starts in the #48 Chevrolet and the #29 car of Kevin Harvick is seated in 29th place leading up to the flag Sunday. 

2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup
Phoenix International Raceway
Kobalt Tools 500
Starting Lineup

  1. 99 Carl Edwards Aflac Ford
  2. 43 A J Allmendinger Insignia HDTV Ford
  3. 2 Kurt Busch Miller Lite Dodge
  4. 16 Greg Biffle 3M Scotch Ford
  5. 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet
  6. 00 David Reutimann TUMS Toyota
  7. 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota
  8. 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
  9. 9 Aric Almirola Budweiser Ford
  10. 20 Joey Logano Home Depot Toyota
  11. 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Toyota
  12. 6 David Ragan UPS Ford
  13. 47 Marcos Ambrose Little Debbie/Safeway Toyota
  14. 33 Clint Bowyer Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet
  15. 17 Matt Kenseth Valvoline Ford
  16. 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Mobil 1 Dodge
  17. 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Ground Toyota
  18. 39 Ryan Newman U.S. ARMY Chevrolet
  19. 98 Paul Menard Peak/Menards Ford
  20. 14 Tony Stewart Old Spice/Old Spice Chevrolet
  21. 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet
  22. 24 Jeff Gordon DuPont Chevrolet
  23. 19 Elliott Sadler Paralyzed Veterans Of America Ford
  24. 13 Casey Mears GEICO Toyota
  25. 83 Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota
  26. 09 Bobby Labonte C & J Energy Chevrolet
  27. 82 Scott Speed Red Bull Toyota
  28. 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet
  29. 29 Kevin Harvick Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet
  30. 12 Brad Keselowski No. 12 Penske Dodge Dodge
  31. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Diet Mntn Dew Paint 88/Natl Guard Chevrolet
  32. 36 Dave Blaney Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet
  33. 26 JJ Yeley Air Guard Ford
  34. 7 Robby Gordon Polaris Toyota
  35. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
  36. 55 Mike Bliss PRISM Motorsports Toyota
  37. 37 David Gilliland Taco Bell Ford
  38. 38 Travis Kvapil Long John Silver's Ford
  39. 64 Landon Cassill Empire Steel Toyota 
  40. 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
  41. 71 Brendan Gaughan South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet
  42. 34 Tony Raines A&W All American Food Ford
  43. 81 Terry Labonte Red Line Oil Dodge

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