Edwards wins pole at Phoenix

Carl Edwards won the pole at Phoenix International Raceway in

Friday’s qualifying with a track-record lap.

Edwards ran a lap of 136.389 mph in a Ford for Roush-Fenway

Racing to earn the top starting spot in Sunday’s race. He broke the

record of 135.854 set by Ryan Newman in 2004.

”It’s very important to start up front, and it’s one of the

things we’ve been focusing on, qualifying,” Edwards said. ”It’s

really important here. This track, like almost all tracks we race

on, track position is so important.”

AJ Allmendinger qualified second for beleaguered Richard Petty

Motorsports with a lap of 136.250, and Kurt Busch was third for

Penske Racing with a 136.240. The top three drivers all broke the

track record.

The three championship contenders will start fairly close

together, with Denny Hamlin qualifying 17th, four-time Phoenix

winner Jimmie Johnson in 21st and Kevin Harvick at 29th.

For Allmendinger, it was a near-miss of the pole at a time his

race team could use a lift. RPM’s financial situation is rocky, and

its cars and engines are held by partner Roush each week until the

organization receives a check from RPM.

The situation played out publicly this week when the RPM

transporters waited at Texas Motor Speedway until Roush finally

gave them the cars they could bring to Phoenix late Wednesday.

”There’s no secret right now of what our race team is going

through right now,” Allmendinger said. ”I think there are two

scenarios that can happen in a situation like this, you can try to

band together and be stronger and come to the race track more

focused, or you can let things start tearing you apart.

”It’s wearing on everybody. It wears on me. But with that said,

everybody on the race team is not letting that effect them.”