Sunday, November 20, 2011

Championship-Minded Edwards Wins Homestead Cup Pole

Photo Credit: Nigel Kinrade Autostock

The 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season started at Florida's Daytona International Speedway where a surprise winner Trevor Bayne took a Wood Brothers Ford to Daytona 500 victory circle. Returning to the state where the top stock car racing tour kicked off what was an overall unpredictable year, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title will be won by the first driver other than Hendrick Motorsports' Jimmie Johnson for the first time since 2005.

The winner of that 2005 Cup championship, Tony Stewart, readies for the 2011 series finale at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway just 3 points behind the Chase points leader. Indiana state's Stewart target for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Ford 400 is the #99 car driven by a Columbus, Missouri native. A driver equally as skilled inside the car as he is charismatic outside of a race vehicle, Carl Edwards used plain consistency in 9 of the 10 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup races to take the point lead going into the Ford 400 on Sunday. Despite not winning an event so far in this 2011 NASCAR Chase, Edwards and the #99 Ford Fusion fielded by Roush Fenway Racing are in position to gain owner Jack Roush his third Cup Series championship. 

With no track activity on Friday due to rain drenching the Homestead-Miami Speedway oval, practice and qualifying for the Ford 400 took place Saturday. Immediately, Carl Edwards and the #99 team rocketed to the top of the time sheets in the two practice sessions. Parlaying the speed in practice, Edward's #99 Ford took pole in qualifying Saturday afternoon lapping the 1.5-mile Florida oval in 30.775 seconds. Equating to a 175.467 mile per hour average speed, Carl Edwards commented following his pole run success content with the importance of Sunday's Ford 400 race. "It is great to be on the pole. It is just one lap and tomorrow we have 267 laps and we have some serious competition out there. We are just going to go put this Ford Fusion up there and get a good pit stall and race hard all day Sunday.” said Edwards ahead of the 400-mile event.

On a mission Sunday, Carl Edwards starts from the front row while Chase contender Tony Stewart will launch from a 15th position in the #14 Chevrolet. With the fight for the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship the tightest during Ford Championship Weekend at the race track, Tony Stewart only needs to improve a few spots over Carl Edwards to steal his third driver's title. Historically at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Edwards and Stewart each hold a pair of victories in the 400-mile event.

Collecting a little over one-tenth of a second slower than Edwards to start on the front row of the Ford 400 is Martin Truex Jr in the #56 Toyota. Recent Pheonix race winner Kasey Kahne is positioned 3rd in what will by his final event in the #4 Toyota for Team Red Bull. Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski claims the 4th and 5th spots in qualifying for Penske Racing. Part of the 12 drivers eligible in the 2011 Chase, both Kurt Busch and Keselowski enter with opportunities to gain positions to finish out the season. Drivers rounding out the top-10 for the start of the Ford 400 are in order of Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin.

Fastest in the first practice, the Hendrick Motorsports-backed #88 Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt Jr will start 11th after qualifying for Sunday's race. In 11 race starts, Earnhardt Jr has yet to record a top-10 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway track in Sprint Cup Series competition. Other notable starters for the Ford 400 includes Regan Smith in 16th place driving the #78 Furniture Row car, the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Kyle Busch in 19th position, one-time 2011 Chase contender Kevin Harvick in 21st and 2003 Homestead-Miami race winner Bobby Labonte will start 35th. Also, Mark Martin will be racing his final race for Hendrick Motorsports in the #5 Chevy starting from the 25th position. Martin had announced weeks ago going to Michael Watrip Racing in 2012.

Concluding the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, the Ford 400 starts Sunday at 3pm Eastern time.

2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup
Ford 400
Homestead-Miami Speedway
Starting Line-up

  1. 99 Carl Edwards Aflac Ford
  2. 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
  3. 4 Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota
  4. 22 Kurt Busch Shell Pennzoil Dodge
  5. 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Dodge
  6. 17 Matt Kenseth Crown Royal Ford
  7. 24 Jeff Gordon Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet
  8. 16 Greg Biffle 3M/Novec Ford
  9. 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
  10. 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota
  11. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet
  12. 43 A J Allmendinger Best Buy Ford
  13. 6 David Ragan UPS My Choice Ford
  14. 39 Ryan Newman U.S. ARMY Chevrolet
  15. 14 Tony Stewart Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet
  16. 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet
  17. 33 Clint Bowyer Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet
  18. 9 Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford
  19. 18 Kyle Busch Interstate Batteries Toyota
  20. 21 Trevor Bayne Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford
  21. 29 Kevin Harvick Budweiser Chevrolet
  22. 51 Landon Cassill Security Benefit/ThnkATchr Today Chevrolet
  23. 27 Paul Menard Duracell/Menards Chevrolet
  24. 83 Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota
  25. 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet
  26. 1 Jamie McMurray Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet
  27. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
  28. 0 David Reutimann Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
  29. 84 Cole Whitt Kangaroo Express Toyota
  30. 55 J J Yeley Ingersoll Rand Ford
  31. 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
  32. 20 Joey Logano The Home Depot Toyota
  33. 66 Michael McDowell HP Racing LLC Toyota
  34. 35 Dave Blaney Golden Corral Chevrolet
  35. 47 Bobby Labonte Reese Towpower Toyota
  36. 30 David Stremme Inception Racing Chevrolet
  37. 87 Joe Nemechek AM/FM Energy Pellet & Wood Stoves Toyota
  38. 34 David Gilliland Front Row Motorsports Ford
  39. 13 Casey Mears Hard Rock Vodka Toyota
  40. 38 Travis Kvapil Long John Silver's Ford
  41. 32 T J Bell Ford
  42. 36 Geoffrey Bodine Luke & Associates Chevrolet
  43. 71 Mike Bliss School Media Ford

No comments:

Post a Comment