Carl Edwards kept his and Roush Fenway's momentum rolling by taking his second pole position and the third for his team this season in qualifying for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol.
Edwards ran close to the existing track record for the half-mile track, being the only one to break into the 14-second bracket with a lap of 14.989sec, at an average speed of 128.014mph, knocking his teammate Greg Biffle from the top spot of the grid.
It is the third race in a row that a Roush Fenway driver will start from pole position, following record-breaking qualifying laps for Edwards and Matt Kenseth at Phoenix and Las Vegas, respectively, in the previous two races, after Trevor Bayne drove a Roush-built Wood Brothers car to victory in the season opener at Daytona.
Edwards, who had been fastest in practice earlier in the day after overcoming some early setup issues, hopes to make the most of his track position and his first pit-stall allocation, although he fears the tire specification change that will come into effect for Sunday's race may completely change the balance and handling from Friday's practice and qualifying.
NASCAR officials decided along with Goodyear to change the right-side tire specification for the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series following excessive wear during practice (click here for story).
"The potential is there to completely turn this field upside-down, figuratively," said Edwards referring to the impact NASCAR's decision may have. "Guys who were struggling today could be dominant on Sunday. It's going to be very interesting.
"At a place like this, the tire is hugely important. There's so much load on the car – it's not really an aero racetrack – that the tire and the way it deforms with this huge amount of load, the way it grips and twists and matches the left and right-side angles and all those things, it means the world."
Biffle will join Edwards in a Roush Fenway front row sweep on Sunday, while Furniture Row's Regan Smith was third-fastest in his No. 78 Chevrolet, claiming the best qualifying result of his Cup career. Richard Childress Racing's Paul Menard was fourth-fastest ahead of Roush's David Ragan, who rounded out the top five.
Reigning champion Jimmie Johnson was sixth after almost losing control of his car while finishing his second lap. Most of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates also enjoyed solid qualifying efforts, Jeff Gordon finishing the session seventh while Mark Martin was ninth – although Dale Earnhardt Jr. ended up farther back in 22nd.
Points leader Kyle Busch was 12th, right behind the lowest Roush Ford qualifier, former Bristol winner Kenseth. Bill Elliott was fastest of the cars having to qualify on speed, while Ken Schrader failed to make the field.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 14.989s
2. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 15.035s + 0.046s
3. Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet 15.040s + 0.051s
4. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet 15.045s + 0.056s
5. David Ragan Roush Fenway Ford 15.055s + 0.066s
6. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 15.059s + 0.070s
7. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 15.076s + 0.087s
8. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota 15.104s + 0.115s
9. Mark Martin Hendrick Chevrolet 15.108s + 0.119s
10. Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota 15.115s + 0.126s
11. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford 15.121s + 0.132s
12. Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota 15.123s + 0.134s
13. Tony Stewart Stewart Haas Chevrolet 15.129s + 0.140s
14. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 15.131s + 0.142s
15. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet 15.150s + 0.161s
16. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 15.152s + 0.163s
17. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet 15.171s + 0.182s
18. Joey Logano Gibbs Toyota 15.171s + 0.182s
19. Trevor Bayne Wood Brothers Ford 15.174s + 0.185s
20. Kurt Busch Penske Dodge 15.181s + 0.192s
21. Ryan Newman Stewart Haas Chevrolet 15.181s + 0.192s
22. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 15.191s + 0.202s
23. Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge 15.215s + 0.226s
24. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 15.216s + 0.227s
25. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota 15.219s + 0.230s
26. David Reutimann Waltrip Toyota 15.228s + 0.239s
27. Clint Bowyer Childress Chevrolet 15.233s + 0.244s
28. AJ Allmendinger Petty Ford 15.257s + 0.268s
29. David Gilliland Front Row Ford 15.258s + 0.269s
30. Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota 15.276s + 0.287s
31. Bill Elliott Phoenix Chevrolet 15.325s + 0.336s
32. Landon Cassill Germain Toyota 15.336s + 0.347s
33. Robby Gordon Gordon Dodge 15.371s + 0.382s
34. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 15.414s + 0.425s
35. Travis Kvapil Front Row Ford 15.436s + 0.447s
36. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 15.437s + 0.448s
37. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet 15.462s + 0.473s
38. JJ Yeley Whitney Chevrolet 15.473s + 0.484s
39. Michael McDowell HP Toyota 15.475s + 0.486s
40. Dennis Setzer K-Automotive Dodge 15.565s + 0.576s
41. Tony Raines Front Row Ford 15.616s + 0.627s
42. Andy Lally TRG Chevrolet 15.869s + 0.880s
43. Casey Mears Germain Toyota 15.610s + 0.621s
Did not qualify:
Ken Schrader FAS Lane Ford 15.660s + 0.671s