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Carl Edwards : Still 'crazy' fast, sets SUV speed record
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Kansas When a winning Rolex Grand-Am Sports Car Series and American Le Mans Series driver tells Carl Edwards he just did something "crazy," that carries some weight. Craig Stanton, a champion road racer and regular test driver for Toyota Racing Development, and Edwards got a Toyota Land Cruiser (heavily modified, of course) up above 230 mph at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. Crazy really is the only word for it. "We just did something pretty crazy. We drove an SUV over 230 mph. But I'm telling you, at 225 mph the thing was wandering a little bit, and trying to keep my foot in it," Edwards says. Edwards gives credit to his driving partner after joking before the test run that he really didn't ask Stanton enough questions before agreeing to the driving task. "Craig Stanton said, 'No matter what, keep your foot in it, and we got 230 mph,' " Edwards explained after the run. "It's an unofficial record, but I think it's safe to say it's the fastest SUV on the planet." You can watch the record unfold in the video below. What's next for the driver who stepped away from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series after the 2016 season? "I got about 1,800 acres of soybeans to plant, but that's about it for right now," Edwards told Tom Jensen of Fox Sports.com.
Daniel Suarez gets Atlanta lessons from Carl Edwards
BUY TICKETS: See the races in Atlanta HAMPTON, Ga. -- Daniel Suarez has NASCAR national series experience at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but his notebook for navigating the 1.54-mile track in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is relatively bare. A devoted student of the sport, Suarez religiously pores over race footage, especially at venues where his experience level could use a boost. But with his first premier-series start on an intermediate-sized track looming, Suarez has called in an expert tutor for an early season cram session. Carl Edwards , a three-time Atlanta winner over the course of his career, was back in the garage area Friday, making the rounds ahead of Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Edwards' surprise decision to step away from racing in January turned the seat of Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 19 Toyota to Suarez, the 2016 XFINITY Series champion who's making the big leap to NASCAR's top division this year. RELATED: Suarez takes over the No. 19 Toyota from Edwards Edwards' return to the track isn't a first. The 37-year-old veteran also attended an offseason organizational test at Phoenix Raceway, lending a hand both to Suarez and the Gibbs-owned team. But the 25-year-old Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate says this weekend's visit stems as much from their personal connection as it does their working relationship. "He's a great guy, a very good friend," Suarez said before Friday's first practice at the 1.54-mile track. "He just asked me, 'Hey, Daniel, do you want me to go over there? Do you think it would be helpful?' I said, 'Man, to have a driver like you who has a bunch of wins here in Atlanta, it's a big deal.' Yeah, he's going to be here to help me out, help the team out. It's a team he knows very well. It's going to be good to have him just to watch and to tell us what's going on from his view." RELATED: Edwards attends Phoenix test to guide rookie Suarez Suarez consulted with Edwards early in the 85-minute opening practice, moments after a 14-lap first run to prep for Sunday's 500-miler, the second race of the season. FOX Sports was quick to note in its broadcast that Edwards has some experience as a substitute teacher on his resume, something that he said may or may not come in handy. "I didn't teach much Spanish and that's coming back to haunt me," joked Edwards , who also told FS1 that he had a hard time staying away from the site of so many successes, including his breakthrough Cup win. "But no, it's really neat to see a guy like Daniel, he's a self-made guy and he's doing a great job. He really cares. To help him a little bit is really cool." Besides learning the nuances of the well-worn Georgia asphalt from a master, Suarez is also getting a preliminary feel for the ebbs and flows of the NASCAR schedule in the big leagues. His season-long workload has gone up, as have his obligations -- both at the track and away. He's just one race in, after a 29th-place series debut in the season-opening Daytona 500, but he already has an early sense of what the year may hold. "I think it's definitely more busy than the XFINITY Series, more going on," Suarez said. "You have more time in the race track than when you are home, but it's good. I really enjoy a lot to spend time in the race track with my team, working hard to become a better person, a better driver. So far, I'm really enjoying this a lot." </p>
Carl Edwards' exit could put Christopher Bell on fast track to XFINITY
How long do you think it took Christopher Bell to do the math? Carl Edwards ' announcement of his abrupt exit from the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has had a ripple effect that could go far beyond the promotion of Daniel Suárez to a full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ride. Because Suárez will fill Edwards' seat in NASCAR’s premier series, he won't defend his NASCAR XFINITY Series title. Bell will be one of the beneficiaries of the changes in Suárez's schedule. "Right now, we have a solid plan for Christopher," said Dave Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development (TRD) USA. "He exceeded our expectations. He got all the way to Miami (the championship race of the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase at Homestead-Miami Speedway ). This year, we expect him to get to Miami and win. "And if circumstances play out, we really would like to get him into an XFINITY car for a couple of races. We're working hard on that, and we're optimistic, but that could very well be a domino that falls. Those are helpful -- those couple of races where there's zero pressure, but it gives you a look at the next step." Last week at the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the 22-year-old Bell wasn't thinking about the next step. He was contemplating the next race, trying to become the first native Oklahoman to win the marquee event of midget racing since Andy Hillenburg accomplished the feat in 1994. (And, no, the Andy Hillenburg in question is not the Indiana-born driver who ran NASCAR races and later bought Rockingham Speedway . The Andy Hillenburg who won the Chili Bowl is a sprint car racer from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.) Bell was also thinking about the upcoming season in the Camping World Truck Series, where his own expectations mirror those of the Toyota brass. "I guess it could open it up for me," Bell said of Edwards' departure. "But, honestly, I haven't even really thought about it, because my schedule's already set, obviously, with Kyle Busch Motorsports. That's where my focus is, and we're going to aim really hard to win races this year. "We came close on the championship last year, but we didn't win many races -- we won one time. My goal is to win races with KBM." That doesn’t mean, however, that Bell wasn't enthused about the prospect of getting his first taste of the XFINITY Series. "That's great," he said during a break between features at the Chili Bowl. "That's good that I might get a couple of races -- that's really good." The extent of Bell's participation in XFINITY races depends to some degree on sponsorship. Wilson said Suárez's primary sponsor, Arris, which also sponsored Edwards , will be confined to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup car, even though Suárez will still run between eight and 12 XFINITY races. "If he (Bell) does what he should do in '17, then, naturally, we would love to get him into an XFINITY ride in '18," Wilson said. "Yes, this could play into Christopher's further development and get him one or two more XFINITY races that we may not have foreseen prior to the news (about Edwards )." Last Saturday night, Bell fulfilled his long-standing dream of winning the Chili Bowl, noting that competing in the Truck Series had informed his approach to dirt-track racing. Biding his time in the 55-lap "A" Main, Bell started on the front row and passed polesitter Justin Grant on Lap 26. He stayed out front the rest of the way. "In years past, it's been attack, attack, attack," Bell said. "This year, it didn't have to be that way. I just ran hard enough to stay in position but not get into trouble. I was able to ride behind Justin there for a while. I knew the bottom was slowing down quite a bit and I kept trying the top. I tried it two times and I almost got passed, so I knew it was going to be a matter of too early or too late at the top. "I started to watch the big screen. (Eventual runner-up Daryn) Pittman was running the top at the time. I knew he was in eighth, and I looked up and he was third or fourth so I knew I had to go. Once I went, I was able to squeak by Justin on the straightaway, and then it was a matter of just not screwing up." That sort of patience is emblematic of Bell's maturation as a driver. Early last season, he didn't look like a championship contender. In the second race of 2016, at Atlanta, his aggressiveness led to a wreck that collected Suárez, his teammate, and fellow Toyota driver and two-time series champion Matt Crafton . But Bell won at Gateway Motorsports Park nine races into the schedule, and he finished outside the top 10 just twice in the last 16 events.
Carl Edwards returns to track ... to help Suarez
Recently retired driver Carl Edwards was at Phoenix Raceway on Tuesday, offering assistance to Daniel Suarez, the new driver of the No. 19 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Carl Edwards leaves JGR: What they're writing
WATCH: 'Not saying the R-word' " Reasons behind decision The media center can be a tough place for drivers -- or a place to celebrate. Reliving the key moments of a thrilling victory. Hard questions on hard days. Carl Edwards ' decision to leave Joe Gibbs Racing and step aside from competing full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series brought a little of both at Wednesday's press conference at the team's shop. And it was his own quote, published by NBC Sports' Nate Ryan on Tuesday, that made Edwards choke up and tearfully whisper, "I just want to be a good person." The quote from Ryan's story was: "For me, the Midwestern mentality is pretty simple. It's just do your job, do your work, be kind to people. Your reputation will follow. I'm really proud to be from Missouri." It's an accurate self-description, per the lauds from NASCAR writers and broadcasters heaped upon Edwards upon his exit. Here are some of the sentiments shared in print and online. Tom Jensen of FOX Sports initially broke the story of Edwards' imminent departure and wrote, "Whatever his next move, Edwards certainly has established an impressive body of work in NASCAR. He owes no one in the racing community anything, and his choice to step away -- whether temporarily or permanently -- that's his right. And he's exercised it. Good luck in the future, Carl . We'll miss you." " Read more Ryan added: "You always know what you will get in an interview with Carl Edwards -- a professional take on whatever the question is, and answered with the measured intelligence and perspective of a man who once taught high school on the side." " Read more Bob Pockrass, ESPN: "( Edwards ) likes his business to be handled neatly, and he believes any friction should be handled privately, leading to criticism that he wasn't as genuine as other drivers. But that also has given him the persona as the ultimate professional publicly, and that is what has attracted fans and has allowed him to be a favorite of talk show hosts looking for a driver who can relate to fans and nonfans alike." " Read more Jordan Bianchi, SB Nation: "As private as Edwards is, he is also among the more personable drivers in the garage. Any interview with him began with him removing his sunglasses so he could look the interviewee and camera straight in the eye. The gesture became such a trademark, sometimes other drivers would good-naturedly mock it." " Read more The finish at Homestead repeatedly came up in conversations this week. One of the most illustrative moments in Carl Edwards ' racing history was the way he left what may be his last race. After a heartbreaking wreck involving the No. 22 Team Penske car with 10 laps to go that cost him the 2016 NASCAR Chase championship, Edwards shook hands with Joey Logano 's crew chief Todd Gordon and team members, rallied his own family and reached out to fans. Jeff Gluck of USA Today told the tale on Nov. 20: "On his way out of the garage, Edwards spotted one of his longtime fans. Rhianne Mitchell was standing silently nearby, with tears in her eyes. Edwards stopped in his tracks, turned around and returned to give her a hug. He pumped his fist at his loyal supporter, as if to try and pick up her spirits. "This kind of exceptional conduct in the face of deep disappointment was something everyone in all walks of life should cherish. And NASCAR fans should certainly be proud Edwards is one of their own." " Read more Lee Spencer of Motorsport.com reached farther back in her own memories to share a story that paints a picture of who Edwards was when he entered the sport, and who he remained. It occurred after Edwards' victory in the 2004 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series opener at Daytona International Speedway . "But it was after that Daytona win that Edwards would forever endear himself to this writer. After a typical, hectic Speedweeks, I was battling the flu and was forced to leave the track and follow the race on TV. Edwards was kind enough to call me from Victory Lane to offer fresh quotes for my story. Edwards' graciousness was not lost on me." " Read more &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Carl Edwards remembers battle with Busch at Richmond
RELATED: Edwards throws bump-and-run on Busch RICHMOND, Va. -- The move that Carl Edwards used to win the spring race here at Richmond International Raceway , and cost Kyle Busch a victory, isn't the focus this weekend as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams prepare for the final race of the regular season. That doesn't mean the last-lap contact has been entirely forgotten by the participants. Edwards certainly remembers it well. "I can still feel Coach (Joe) Gibbs' presence here from last time I was sitting here after the race," Edwards said Friday in the RIR media center. Both Busch and Edwards compete for the Joe Gibbs Racing organization in the Sprint Cup Series, along with teammates Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin . But it was Busch and Edwards running 1-2 when the field took the white flag to begin the final lap in the Toyota Owners 400 in April. Then it was Edwards and Busch running 1-2 at the checkered flag. Somewhere in between, specifically in the middle of Turns 3 and 4, there was contact. Edwards shot his No. 19 Toyota to the inside; Busch, in the No. 18, was trying to close the door. The bump moved Busch up the track, and Edwards shot past for the lead and the win. "Kyle and I talked," Edwards . "We actually talked about it last night -- Denny was nice enough to give me a ride here and we joked around about it a little bit." RELATED: Kyle tops leaderboard in opening practice With all four JGR teams already securely in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup field, Edwards said the opportunity to just "go race, have as much fun as we can" is the gameplan for Saturday's Federated Auto Parts 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR). If the opportunity presents itself once again in the closing laps this time around? "I don’t know," Edwards said. "I know if I were put in the position and the roles were reversed, I know exactly what to expect tomorrow night, but I plan on racing as hard as I can for the victory."
Carl Edwards steps away from racing; Daniel Suarez to wheel No. 19
RELATED: NASCAR Nation reacts to Edwards' news " Quotes from day HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- Carl Edwards gave three very detailed reasons why he is stepping away from NASCAR competition, only to circle back to the subject later and put it a bit more succinctly. "Life is short," Edwards told a room full of media, sponsor representatives and other assorted team and NASCAR officials Wednesday. "You've got to do what your gut tells you." And Edwards said his gut told him it was time to move on to something else. Edwards , 37, officially announced that he will not compete in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2017, calling a halt to a career that included 28 victories at NASCAR's top level, 10 Chase appearances and two second-place finishes in the series' championship points battle. The 2017 season was to be his third in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, his team since joining JGR in 2015 after an 11-year career at Roush Fenway Racing . Instead, it will be 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Daniel Suarez who will be at the helm of the team's No. 19 entry. Suarez, the first Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR national championship and a product of the sanctioning body's Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Next programs, will make his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut in the season-opening Daytona 500 , scheduled for Feb. 26 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). MORE: Recap Suarez's title year " Suarez returns home to Mexico a champion Edwards , wearing a dark suit and gray dress shirt as he walked on stage at the organization's headquarters here in Huntersville, didn't entirely rule out a return to racing in some form or fashion, explaining that "If I'm going to get back in a race car, which I'm not saying the R (retirement) word here … I'm calling Coach (Joe) Gibbs first. "There is no better race team. There is no faster car than a Toyota Camry. There's no better engine. There's no better crew chief than Dave Rogers. There's no better crew." Why step away when he is seemingly still at the top of his game? He finished fourth in the 2016 points standings and was in the title picture right up until a crash with 12 laps remaining took him out of contention in the series’ final race. WATCH: Edwards takes blame for Miami wreck " Edwards' 2016 in review
Carl Edwards gave special retirement gift to 'Smoke'
RELATED: What if Edwards had won 2011 title? While Tony Stewart hasn't wanted the whole "retirement tour" and the gifts that come along with it like what we saw with Jeff Gordon in 2015, the three-time Sprint Cup Series champion recently received a gift that he couldn't refuse -- and from an unlikely source. Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Carl Edwards revealed Thursday during the Championship 4 press conference in Miami that he gave "Smoke" the helmet he wore at Homestead-Miami Speedway to conclude Stewart's third and final championship run in 2011 ... when Stewart beat Edwards in heart/tie-breaking fashion. "I watched him on my way up," Edwards said of the gesture. "To see him progress and to finally be able to battle him, that was a lot of fun." The effort wasn't lost on Stewart. "That shows you how thoughtful Carl is," Stewart said. "I think that's a huge honor. It shows Carl's character." It may have been fun, but Edwards still can't quite stomach the reminder that he nearly could've been going for his second Sprint Cup Series title this weekend in Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC/NBC Sports App). The final race from 2011 recently re-aired on NBCSN, and the veteran driver could only tune-in for a handful of minutes before he gave up after stumbling upon it on TV. "I had seen enough after five or 10 minutes," Edwards said. "I had to shut it off." MORE: Stewart relives title via live tweeting &amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;
Meet Jason Hedlesky, Carl Edwards' spotter
RELATED: Meet Denny Hamlin's spotter, Chris Lambert Editor's note: This is the fourth in a series of interviews with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series spotters. Jason Hedlesky, Spotter for Carl Edwards , No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota How and when did you get started as a spotter? I grew up (in Clinton, Michigan) and my dad brought me to Michigan Speedway for the first time when I was 8 years old. Before that, I knew I wanted to be a race car driver. When he brought me here … I walked up to the fence at the start/finish line and I want to say it was Neil Bonnett in the Wood Brothers car, he just came flying by me. I stepped back about five feet, it scared me at first, but it was the most awesome thing in the world. That just confirmed it. I stayed focused on my goals and tried to eventually make it as a driver. I succeeded to some extent -- getting my start with Mr. (Junie) Donlavey and had raced locally at Flat Rock and Toledo. Getting my start with Mr. Donlavey in 1998, I drove for him, did a little bit of everything, team manager and spotted for the team as well. In '04, Mr. Donlavey was retiring and I wanted to keep driving. I didn't really want another management job or a real job. I wanted to concentrate on driving. Carl needed a spotter. He was driving a truck for Jack (Roush, team owner) and I started spotting for him. We just became ... he's like one of my brothers. What, if any, other duties do you have with the team? That's it. For the last 13 years with Carl , I've just been the spotter. At Roush I did some test driving, a little bit. I filled in for him on the XFINITY side in I want to say '08. I did a couple of practice sessions when he was off with the Cup car. Do you spot only in Sprint Cup or other series as well? I work with Matt Crafton in the Truck Series. I've been with him probably five years now. We've won the two championships together. I've got a great relationship with him as well; he's a great friend of mine. It's just a great team to work with. Junior Joiner, the crew chief, Duke (Thorson, team owner), they're awesome. As much as this is home with Carl and everything else and being with them for 13 years, I feel the same way over there at ThorSport. How long have you been working with Carl ? Since 2004 with Carl , I think that was his second year in Trucks, and then that year he started (at Michigan) in the Cup car, the '99 car. There was a timeframe when Bobby Hudson would come in just for Sunday only and do the races with Carl because he was already doing that 99 car. So I would do the Truck full-time and the Cup practice. Bobby would be here just to do the Sunday stuff. Then it gradually evolved into me doing everything Carl did. We ran seven straight years of XFINTY Series and Sprint Cup full-time. Do you remember the first race you worked as spotter? It goes way back to Toledo Speedway. I helped a guy with a Super Late Model. Toledo is a half-mile race track with a quarter-mile track on the inside. Chuck Roumell, I grew up working on his cars. He gave me a shot to help with the race cars and his brother was spotting. ... For some reason, one 100-lap Iceman feature at Toledo, he couldn't do it, so they just threw the radio at me. At that time, you'd stand on top of the tool box and just spin around in a circle; you really didn't do the inside/outside type of stuff that we do today. You'd let them know if there was a wreck; you'd give them information but that was about it. I think it might have been about '97. Chuck ran some ARCA races at Michigan and places like that and I spotted for him there. What is the most bizarre thing you've ever seen on the spotters' stand? I've been doing it now almost 20 years just in NASCAR, and every time you think you've seen it all ... something else crazy happens. ... There have been so many things, like Daytona when Juan Pablo Montoya broke that part and hit that jet dryer. That was crazy from our vantage point. We're watching the race track burn in Turn 3 and thinking we're never going to go back racing. The race track has to be destroyed. And we ended up going back to racing. I'd say the jet dryer thing and thankfully everyone was OK. What has been your most memorable experience as a spotter? We've had a lot with Carl . He's such a special driver. ... It stunk how it turned out, but one of the coolest things we were a part of was that championship run at Homestead with Tony (Stewart). That was a heck of a race. You just saw two spectacular race car drivers and they were right on the edge. They were an inch from the wall down there. I talked to Carl afterward; obviously we were all so disappointed. We thought that was our championship. To this day we still think we should have won that championship. But Tony just got us. I called Carl after that and said I was worried about him scraping the wall. He said, "I was never going to hit the wall; I knew I couldn't." But he was running a half-inch from it. Me driving and realizing how hard that is to do that at his speed, that's why those guys are the best. You realize that after you watch guys like him and Tony. To be a part of that, to watch the skill they had -- those guys were running as hard as any human being could ever drive a race car. ... That was pretty cool. ... That thing there was just a spectacular race, they put on a spectacular show. The cream rose to the top. What is the most difficult part of your job? As much as we like traveling, I think the toughest part is being away from my wife and kids. Getting through all the practices and trying to stay focused. The races are fun, that's what you're here for. Staying focused all day up on the spotters' stand ... when you've got Truck and XFINITY and Cup. That part is tough, but the travel, all the long days and being away from your family. Your favorite track to work and why? Michigan, of course, because it's home. But I love to spot a race at Bristol. Our vantage point, it's a half mile. You're looking down and you don't have to turn your head. You can see everything right there in front of you. And the action happens so quick. It's probably my favorite. I've enjoyed the racing at Michigan. It's a big, wide race track. ... I've enjoyed draft, the fact that you have to lift in the corners, the fact that a guy can still beat you down in the corners. What is one thing the average fan might not realize about your job or what it entails? Probably how difficult it can be. I think if I just took the average person up there ... they don't realize maybe sometimes how little you can see at some of these places. We have great, clear vantage points, but you're still a long way away. You're listening to NASCAR on one channel, you have the crew chief on another channel and you're talking to your driver. There's a lot going on. ... Just the ability to stay focused. It's not easy or Talladega or Daytona or (Michigan); They're three- and four-wide and you're looking through binoculars to make sure you're as precise as possible. Then wrecks are happening in front of that. ... They're kind of far away from you. If you do it for a season you just get used to it. ... I appreciate all the work all those guys do. It's not easy. Bristol is a fishbowl but there's a lot going on. So you have to keep your head in the game.
Carl Edwards nabs Coors Light Pole Award at Bristol
RELATED: Complete lineup for Bristol " See every car in the field BRISTOL, Tenn. – Denny Hamlin owns a new track record, but Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Carl Edwards won the round that counted in Friday’s knockout qualifying session at Bristol Motor Speedway . Edwards sped around the .533-mile high-banked concrete short track in 14.602 seconds (131.407 mph) to claim the top starting spot for Saturday's Bass Pro Shops NRA night Race (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), edging Hamlin (131.200 mph) by .023 seconds. Remarkably, Edwards earned his fifth Coors Light Pole Award of the season, his fourth at Bristol and the 21st of his career without making a mock qualifying run during either of Friday's two practice sessions. Instead, the driver of the No. 19 Toyota relied on setup information from his teammates – including Hamlin. "It's nice to have fast teammates," said Edwards , who will try to duplicate his pole-winning, race-winning performance from April. "We wouldn't have had a shot at (the pole) if it wasn’t for them. We thought it was going to rain, so we didn't practice qualifying or anything. My guys made great adjustments based on that information. "I just hope we can finish it off the way we did in the spring." All four JGR drivers qualified in the top five for the 23rd NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season. Kyle Busch (130.931 mph) will start third and Matt Kenseth (130.619 mph) fifth. The only interloper was Ford driver Ryan Blaney (130.637 mph), who grabbed the fourth spot on the grid in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Fusion. With a blistering run in 14.573 seconds (131.668 mph) in the first round, Hamlin broke the track record he set for this event last year, eclipsing his own mark of 14.602 seconds (131.407 mph). But Hamlin was the last of 12 drivers out for the final round and fell just short of Edwards' winning time. "We had really good speed, so I'm pretty optimistic about that," said Hamlin, who will start within the top six for the 15th time this season. "I can't believe we've qualified as good as we have this year and not gotten a pole. "It's unbelievable – still a great effort by our whole team. I hope we can have a great race up here on (Saturday) night and get in Victory Lane." Chris Buescher , fighting to crack the top 30 in the standings and qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup (based on his victory at Pocono), qualified 12th, one position behind Jeff Gordon , who made the final round for the first time in his fourth start in place of Dale Earnhardt Jr . Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott had the fastest Chevrolet, qualifying sixth. &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;