Carl Edwards talks about the Contender Round being a little more stressful with the elimination race being at Talladega Superspeedway.
RELATED: First practice results " Complete weekend schedule Making a late run in Friday's opening practice session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway , Carl Edwards soared to the top the leaderboard, his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota turning a fast lap of 136.894 mph. Jimmie Johnson paced the field the majority of the session, taking the lead in the first 30 minutes of the session. As drivers began to make mock qualifying runs, Johnson's No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet tumbled down the charts, until a late run put him back in the second spot (136.311 mph). Brad Keselowski 's No. 2 Team Penske Ford briefly led the field, ultimately settling into the third spot on the leaderboard by the end of the two-and-a-half-hour session with a fastest lap of 136.155 mph. Kyle Larson 's impressive 136.058-mph lap late in the session sent the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet to the fourth spot on the speed charts. Kurt Busch rounded out the top group, wheeling the fifth-fastest speed (136.019 mph) in his No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. Reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick 's fast lap of 135.434 mph put him 11th on the leaderboard in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. The Sprint Cup Series is back on track at 4:45 p.m. ET for Coors Light Pole Qualifying (NBCSN).
RELATED: Complete race lineup CONCORD, N.C. – For a driver who keeps insisting that qualifying isn’t his strong suit, Matt Kenseth continues to excel on NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole days. Touring the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway in a blistering 27.759 seconds (194.532 mph) on Thursday night, the driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota earned the top starting spot for Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN/Live Extra), the first race in the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Kenseth was .198 seconds quicker than JGR teammate Kyle Busch (193.154 mph), who put the No. 18 Toyota on the outside of the front row. Busch's car is sporting a pink paint scheme this weekend to bring attention to the work of his foundation in fighting breast cancer. The Coors Light Pole Award was Kenseth’s fourth this year—a personal best for a single season—his second at Charlotte (and second consecutive) and the 17th of his career. Kenseth didn't have a perfect lap, but as he crossed the start/finish to complete the circuit, he knew he had a shot at the pole. "It was a heck of a lap," Kenseth said. "I knew I had a lot of speed. I kind of changed it up in (Turns) 1 and 2 a little bit, and I just got a little tight in the middle of (Turns) 3 and 4. I knew the car was fast. Our Dollar General Camry has been fast all day, and it was a lot of fun to drive." Kenseth gave the car and crew chief Jason Ratcliff's setup much of the credit for his pole-winning effort. "I knew it was going to be real fast," Kenseth said. "I didn't know we were going to sit on the pole by any means, but it had the feel and everything that I wanted. It's funny, this place, if you can get it to drive just like you want, you can really perform well here, but it's so hard to get that feel… "But today he (Ratcliff) got it to drive that way. I was going to have to mess it up to not get it, as good as he had it there." Joey Logano (193.023 mph) qualified third, followed by Greg Biffle (192.947 mph) and Denny Hamlin (192.912 mph). With Carl Edwards claiming the eighth starting spot, JGR put all four of its drivers, all of whom are Chase contenders, in the top eight. All told, Chase drivers grabbed nine of the top 12 positions on the grid, with Biffle, Jimmie Johnson (seventh) and Aric Almirola (ninth) the only non-Chase drivers able to advance to the final round of knockout qualifying. Busch, who fought his way back into the Chase with a second-place finish last Sunday at Dover, was pleased with his effort in time trials. "I don't know— Matt Kenseth , he was better than me, that's for sure," Busch said. "He got more out of it than me, but our pink M&M's Camry is awesome. We were able to post some good speed there. I'm real happy with it… and I'm looking forward to the race on Saturday night." All 12 Chase contenders advanced through the first round, but Brad Keselowski (13th), Martin Truex Jr . (15th) and Jeff Gordon (22nd) weren't fast enough to make the final elimination session, which is restricted to the top 12. Keselowski ran an identical lap to 12th-place Carl Edwards but lost the final spot in the third round on an owner points tiebreaker. Josh Wise and Timmy Hill failed to make the 43-car field. The Sprint Cup Series is back on track on Friday for practice at 3:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN/Live Extra).
Presenting NASCAR content from around the web Editor's note: On Wednesday at noon ET, "High 5" will present some of the best NASCAR-related content from around the web. 1. Don't push the button... College football didn't disappoint viewers this week, as Clemson knocked off No. 6 Notre Dame in a thrilling fashion, beating the Fighting Irish 24-22. After the game, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney -- who is known for his passionate speeches, enthusiastic behavior and even a little dancing -- began what was a promising post-game sermon on ABC. But he was interrupted with a wrong push of a button back in the ESPN studio. For 13 slow seconds, viewers were treated to a clip of unknowing SportsCenter anchors Jay Harris and Kevin Connors scrolling through their iPads. Major oops. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;nbsp; Apologies for glitch during Dabo Swinney's emotional postgame interview. Wrong button hit - interrupted his answer. Live TV — Chris Fowler (@cbfowler) October 4, 2015 Just goes to show you how big of a deal one button can be. The flagman at Bristol can certainly attest to that, as his accidental lean on a switch at the end of the race in 2014 brought out the caution, handing the checkered flag to Carl Edwards . Doesn't seem like Carl minded too much, though. 2. I'm lovin' it Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2015 was a big day in America: McDonald's began serving breakfast all day long . Yup, now you can satisfy your midnight cravings for an Egg McMuffin. We know one guy who's excited for late-night oval-shaped hashbrowns. So excited that he even put Mickey D's breakfast on his car. #dedication If you don't have dinner plans, remember that breakfast is now an option! #AllDayBreakfast starts today @McDonalds https://t.co/RQEk6vsBCb — Jamie McMurray (@jamiemcmurray) October 6, 2015 3. Make way for ducklings NASCAR is no stranger to wildlife on the track. Back in August, a rabbit was seen hopping down the track at Bristol Motor Speedway . And there was that one time that a seagull dared to face off Dale Earnhardt in the 1991 Daytona 500 . Poor, poor seagull. This little guy was the latest critter to (literally) hit the track Sunday during the Sprint Cup Series' AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway . For the bird's sake, thank goodness for caution flags and wings that allowed him to escape the Miles the Monster unscathed. 4. Where there's rain, there's... Apparently giant snakes. As if the bird on-track wasn't enough, a five-feet-long boa constrictor was seen slithering its way through downtown Dover, Delaware, amidst the rainy conditions on Wednesday. While the idea of a massive snake slinking its way around town is creepy (and slightly terrifying), at least it didn't make its way to the race track like Mr. Bird did on Saturday. Can you imagine the chaos a SNAKE would cause? Although the Miles the Monster-giant snake match-up is an interesting idea … 5. 'Merica The MLB's Texas Rangers were certainly feeling patriotic during Tuesday's practice before their upcoming playoff series against the Toronto Blue Jays. A little workout before heading to Toronto. #NeverEverQuit pic.twitter.com/oninA5nXqB — Texas Rangers (@Rangers) October 6, 2015 With all the pride Texans have for their state, we are a tad surprised these are American flag shorts and not Texas flag ones. But either way, NASCAR's got them beat. Cars > Shorts. #Merica
RELATED: Qualifying results LOUDON, N.H. – Posting the fastest lap of Friday’s time trials late in the final round of knockout qualifying at New Hampshire Motor Speedway , Carl Edwards knocked Kevin Harvick off the pole for Sunday’s Sylvania 300 , the second race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Edwards covered the 1.058-mile distance in 27.604 seconds (137.980 mph) to earn his third Coors Light Pole Award of the season, his second at New Hampshire — completing a season sweep of the top starting spot at the Magic Mile — and the 16th of his career. "To be honest, that third round surprised me, how fast we were," said Edwards , who was 11th fastest in the second round. "I think it helped me almost to struggle through the second round, 'cause I thought, 'Aw, heck with it,' and I just kind of went for it in the third round. "The car has a ton of speed. I hate to admit how poorly I drove it the first and second rounds, but I think it really says a lot about how fast the car is." Needing a victory or an extremely high finish to restore his hopes of repeating as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Harvick (137.845 mph) posted a lap .027 seconds slower than that the pole winner to earn the second-place starting spot. "I felt like I probably left those few hundredths of a second not being aggressive enough off the exit of Turn 2, and as good as the car was off of Turn 4," Harvick said. "Small crumbs. It's hard to balance that here, because if you push the car too much, you wind up giving up two or three tenths (of a second) instead of two or three hundredths." Harvick, however, declined to address his confrontation with Jimmie Johnson after last Sunday's Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway . Side-to-side contact with Johnson’s Chevrolet ultimately flattened the left rear tire of Harvick’s No. 4 Chevy, sending him spinning into the Turn 3 wall and relegating him to a 42nd-place finish. That result left Harvick last in the 16-driver Chase standings and incensed at the six-time champion. When Johnson approached the reigning champ in the motor coach lot after the race, Harvick responded with a blow to Johnson’s chest, as one of Harvick’s handlers tried to keep the drivers apart. Asked whether Johnson might have something to worry about in Sunday’s race, Harvick replied, "I don’t look back. I just do what we have to do to focus on what we need to do looking forward. I’m not going to use you guys (the press) to make threats. I can do that myself." Kurt Busch , Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, qualified third at 137.800 mph, followed by Brad Keselowski (137.671 mph) and Johnson (137.621 mph), as Chase drivers claimed the top five positions on the grid. Non-Chaser Kyle Larson was sixth fastest, while Chase drivers Denny Hamlin , Joey Logano , Ryan Newman , Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr . qualified seventh through 11th, respectively. Other Chase competitors will start as follows: Matt Kenseth , 13th; Kyle Busch , 17th; Paul Menard , 20th; Martin Truex Jr ., 21st; Jamie McMurray , 23rd and Clint Bowyer , 26th. Bowyer was the only Chase driver who failed to advance past the first round. Travis Kvapil failed to make the 43-car field.
After the third race of the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway , PitTalks.com ranks the 16 Chase teams' pit crews. For more pit crew news provided by PitTalks.com come back throughout the Chase . No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota pit crew for Carl Edwards Rank: 1 Wins: 2 -- Charlotte and Darlington Notes: This crew had an exceptional race in the pits. We usually wouldn't send a seventh-place team last week to first this week, but these guys laid down some very fast stops. They had an issue late in the race that brought the No. 19 down pit road, but we're hearing it was a car issue, not a crew misstep. No. 22 Team Penske Ford pit crew for Joey Logano Rank: 2 Wins: 3 -- Daytona, Watkins Glen, Bristol Notes: After a struggle last week on a few stops, this crew was on fire at Dover. It gained spots on five of the six pit sequences and helped keep the No. 22 up front all day. No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet pit crew for Kevin Harvick Rank: 3 Wins: 2 -- Las Vegas and Phoenix Notes: This team did everything it needed to do to advance to the Contender Round of the Chase. The pressure this crew was under was huge, and team members were in a situation where mistakes weren't tolerated. They had fast stops all day and have earned the third spot. No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet pit crew for Kurt Busch Rank: 4 Wins: 2 -- Richmond and Michigan Notes: This has been a top team all year and it continued to put up good times at Dover. The stops weren't as fast as the top two teams in Dover, but they were still very good. Late in the race the car entered pit road with problems on the left front, but that wasn't on the crew. No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota pit crew for Denny Hamlin Rank: 5 Wins: 2 -- Martinsville, (Sprint All-Star Race), Chicago Notes: The first stop of the day was blistering for this crew: sub 11 seconds. But after two speeding penalties it seemed the wind was taken out of the team's sails. We still wouldn't bet against them when the race is on the line ... it just wasn't this weekend. No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota pit crew for Matt Kenseth Rank: 6 Wins: 5 -- Bristol, Pocono, Michigan, Richmond, New Hampshire Notes: Dover wasn't a great race for the No. 20 nor was it a bad one. The crew made adjustments on the back of the car during the second stop and lost a few spots, but after that it was solid for most of the day. This team wasn't as dominant as last week but was still fast. No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota pit crew for Kyle Busch Rank: 7 Wins: 4 -- Sonoma , Kentucky, New Hampshire, Indianapolis Notes: Landing in the seventh spot this week is the good ol' No. 18 car. What a drama-filled two weeks for these guys! They seem to be handling it well. Their stops looked fast, and Josh Leslie has stepped in nicely for Nick Odell. We see this team only getting faster during the next round. No. 2 Team Penske Ford pit crew for Brad Keselowski Rank: 8 Wins: 1 -- Fontana Notes: This crew didn't do enough to gain on the top seven, but was good enough to hold onto eighth. Even with a change in the rear changers three weeks ago, this team keeps getting better. In order to help the No. 2 car advance to the next round, they must continue to improve. No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet pit crew for Ryan Newman Rank: 9 Wins: 0 Notes: Newman is in the Contender Round of the Chase, and he had no problems on pit road that would have kept him out. Sometimes that is what is asked of the pit crew: don't make mistakes. We can't fairly say how fast their stops were. So with that, they stay hunkered down at No. 9. No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet pit crew for Jeff Gordon Rank: 10 Wins: 0 Notes: Nick Odell joined the No. 24 this week only one week after being released from JGR. The crew seemed to be OK, but we didn't see much that would push us to move it up from the past two weeks. No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet pit crew for Martin Truex Jr . Rank: 11 Wins: 1 - Pocono Notes: The No. 78 has seen better days but did what it took to advance. On the fourth sequence, it lost a spot and lost two more on pit stop No. 6. They're a scary crew because they can put up very low times, but the inconsistency is what keeps them near the bottom of the power rankings. No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet pit crew for Dale Earnhardt Jr . Rank: 12 Wins: 2 -- Talladega and Daytona Notes: This crew can't seem to catch a break. Toward the end of last week a change was announced and front changer Scott Brzozowski was taken off the No. 24 and put on the No. 88. They had a loose wheel on Stop 2 and had another potential wheel coming loose before the last caution. For more pit crew news, visit PitTalks.com
LEARN MORE: About Bing PLAY NOW: Play The Chase Grid Battle Game Powered by Bing The intensity in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is building as the competition moves to the Contender Round starting Saturday night in Charlotte and continuing the next two weeks at Kansas and Talladega. With the always unpredictable Talladega sitting at the end of this stretch of races, it's extra difficult to choose which eight of the remaining 12 drivers will advance to the Eliminator Round and get closer to a championship. But never fear, Bing is here to give you confidence in the picks you're about to make in The Chase Grid Battle Game Powered by Bing . With Bing Predicts , a methodology that has a history of producing accurate forecasts, you will be able to sort through these difficult times and come up with the winning choices. Bing Predicts accurately predicted the 16 drivers who would make the Chase this season, and it correctly picked 11 of the 12 drivers who advanced to the Contender Round. Check out the eight drivers Bing predicts will make it out of the Contender Round and into the Eliminator Round, then read at the bottom about an exciting opportunity to win a trip to Las Vegas for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' Champion's Week. Bing Predicts : The eight drivers who will advance to the Eliminator Round Kevin Harvick , 96% chance Joey Logano , 86% Kyle Busch , 78% Denny Hamlin , 78% Brad Keselowski , 77% Matt Kenseth , 74% Carl Edwards , 64% Dale Earnhardt Jr ., 64% Kurt Busch , Jeff Gordon , Martin Truex Jr , and Ryan Newman are projected not to advance to the 'Final 8.' Note: Bing's models predicted that Earnhardt Jr. is actually more likely to be eliminated than Kurt Busch , but Junior's stellar record on restrictor-plate tracks, particularly at Talladega where he has six career Sprint Cup victories, makes him more likely to win the last race in this round at Talladega and advance -- similar to what Harvick did at Dover to get into the Contender Round. In addition to helping you win the NASCAR Chase Grid Battle game, Bing also wants to send you on a trip of a lifetime to celebrate the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup champion. Now y ou can enter a sweepstakes through Bing Rewards for a chance to win a trip to Las Vegas for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week.
The following are team press releases previewing the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET Saturday, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM). Joe Gibbs Racing : Kyle Busch " Team preview Carl Edwards " Team preview Denny Hamlin " Team preview Matt Kenseth " Team preview Stewart-Haas Racing : Kevin Harvick " Team preview Kurt Busch " Team preview Hendrick Motorsports : Jeff Gordon " Team preview Dale Earnhardt Jr . " Team preview Team Penske : Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano " Team preview Richard Childress Racing : Ryan Newman " Team preview Furniture Row Racing : Martin Truex Jr . " Team preview Note: Not all Chase teams provide a press release.
RELATED: Race results " Updated series standings " SHOP: Edwards gear DARLINGTON, S.C.-- On a night when throwback paint schemes recalled NASCAR's past in vivid color, and a low-downforce aerodynamic package suggested the future direction of the sport, Carl Edwards overcame early misfortune to win an exhilarating race at "The Lady in Black." Grabbing the lead thanks to a blisteringly fast pit stop under the track-record 18th caution of Sunday night's Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway , Edwards pulled away after a restart with eight laps left and beat polesitter Brad Keselowski to the finish line by .902 seconds to win his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the venerable 1.366-mile speedway. An outspoken proponent of the low-downforce configuration, Edwards was thrilled with the quality of the racing and elated with his second victory of the season and the 25th of his career. "I don't think I can get in trouble for how much I liked it, but I loved it -- this is as good as it gets," Edwards said. "This is what it's about. We're sliding cars, tires are falling off -- this is the style of racing -- if there's any chance we can run this in the Chase, I hope we can do it. It was an awesome day." For the record, NASCAR will run its standard 2015 competition package throughout the Chase, but the low-downforce configuration got rave reviews from a wide array of competitors. "I loved it," Keselowski said. "It separates the race car drivers from the pretends, and that's the way it should be." Edwards' victory didn't come without significant adversity. The driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota lost two laps after staying out on old tires when the rest of the lead-lap cars came to pit road under caution on Lap 62. That decision forced Edwards to pit early on Lap 89, and a subsequent caution for Michael Annett 's crash in Turn 2 trapped him two laps down. Edwards spent the next 200 laps working his way back to the front. Edwards was locked in an intense three-way battle for the lead when caution for Jeb Burton 's spin in Turn 2 on Lap 355 of 367 took fuel mileage out of the equation and set up the final round of pit stops. WATCH: Final laps of Edwards' dramatic win at Darlington Edwards edged Keselowski for the top spot leaving pit road and parlayed that advantage into a hard-earned victory. Denny Hamlin came home third, followed by Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick . It was a late duel with Keselowski and Harvick during a 43-lap green-flag run preceding the final caution that made an indelible impression on the Missouri driver. "A win like this is really special, especially leading into the Chase," Edwards said. "This is what we needed. We just needed a shot in the arm and needed to have a good night like this. All over, it's cool. "I hope I never forget those last 25 laps. That was really fun, and the restart was fun, but truly racing with Brad and Kevin was a blast. I really had a good time." In what was a banner night for Joe Gibbs Racing , Kyle Busch completed his journey back from an 11-race injury absence with a seventh-place finish that locked Busch into the top 30 in the series standings and clinched a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup for the four-time winner. MORE: Busch Chase Watch "Making the Chase was something we weren't all sure was possible after my injuries," said Busch, who broke his right leg and left foot in a wreck during the Feb. 21 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona. "It's a great opportunity to be with these guys on this M&M'S Crispy team. They're working really hard at Joe Gibbs Racing -- we've got a lot of speed, and I think all four cars have a really good shot at this championship. "I had my hands full tonight. I think I just got a little behind on what our adjustments needed to be for the race, but our whole team just really turned this thing around, and it turned out to be a solid finish for us."
@nascarcasm imagines Edwards' Facebook page after his Southern 500 win RELATED: All content from @nascarcasm " Follow @nascarcasm