Drivers Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman. Photo by Ed Locke/UPI | License Photo
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- You can add the title "road course ringer" to Carl Edwards' racing resume.
Touring the road course at Watkins Glen in 69.689 seconds (126.562 mph) during Saturday's time trials at Watkins Glen International, Edwards beat Kyle Larson (126.223 mph) by .182 seconds to earn the top starting spot for Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at the Glen (2:30 p.m. ET on USA).
In winning his fourth Coors Light Pole Award of the season and the 20th of his career, Edwards completed a sweep of road course poles in 2016, having also started first on the grid at Sonoma Raceway in June.
Larson's second-place effort was a career-best on a road course, bettering the third starting position he earned at Sonoma in 2014. Tony Stewart (126.177 mph) qualified third, followed by Matt Kenseth (126.104 mph) and Kyle Busch (126.099 mph), both teammates to Edwards at Joe Gibbs Racing.
Edwards said starting on the pole on the newly-repaved racing surface at the Glen will be a significant advantage.
"I think (Sunday) is going to be a little bit of an adventure," said Edwards, whose four poles this year constitute a career best for a single season. "The new pavement, nobody knows how that's going to go along deep into the runs with tire build-up. I think the braking zones are pretty tough, and it's going to be nice and warm.
"So, just got to stay upfront, can't make any mistakes. I love road races. They're so much fun. I got to talk to Boris Said, who's basically my road racing coach to start, so that was cool today. Hopefully, tonight I'll get me some good rest and hopefully be very competitive tomorrow."
Even though Edwards' No. 19 Camry was fastest in qualifying, he expects stiff competition on Sunday from his Toyota brethren.
"My teammates, they're really fast," Edwards said. "Kyle (Busch) is really fast and Martin (Truex Jr. of affiliated Furniture Row Racing) is really fast.
"We've got to work a little bit in race trim, but we're starting up front, and we've got a great pit crew, and hopefully we can put (the car) in Victory Lane."
Truex, in fact, was one of the favorites for the pole, but his hot lap in the money round was impeded by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who entered the track at the bottom of the esses as Truex was approaching that uphill section of the 2.45-mile course.
Truex, who qualified 14th, returned the favor on his cool-down lap, taking Stenhouse's line in the esses and relegating the Roush Fenway Racing driver to a 30th-place starting spot.
Jeff Gordon qualified 21st in his third start for Dale Earnhardt Jr. AJ Allmendinger, the 2014 Watkins Glen winner, will start ninth.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying - Cheez-It 355 at The Glen
Watkins Glen International
Watkins Glen, New York
Saturday, August 6, 2016
1. (19) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 126.562 mph.
2. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 126.233 mph.
3. (14) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 126.177 mph.
4. (20) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 126.104 mph.
5. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 126.099 mph.
6. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 126.002 mph.
7. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 125.924 mph.
8. (31) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 125.831 mph.
9. (47) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 125.623 mph.
10. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 125.536 mph.
11. (95) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 125.370 mph.
12. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 124.981 mph.
13. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 124.981 mph.
14. (78) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 124.968 mph.
15. (4) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 124.837 mph.
16. (24) Chase Elliott #, Chevrolet, 124.670 mph.
17. (41) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 124.585 mph.
18. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 124.569 mph.
19. (21) Ryan Blaney #, Ford, 124.559 mph.
20. (13) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 124.532 mph.
21. (88) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 124.460 mph.
22. (98) Cole Whitt, Toyota, 124.269 mph.
23. (5) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 124.248 mph.
24. (16) Greg Biffle, Ford, 124.159 mph.
25. (34) Chris Buescher #, Ford, 124.120 mph.
26. (23) David Ragan, Toyota, 123.842 mph.
27. (44) Brian Scott #, Ford, 123.633 mph.
28. (15) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 123.464 mph.
29. (7) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 123.455 mph.
30. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 123.446 mph.
31. (10) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 123.389 mph.
32. (6) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 123.353 mph.
33. (27) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 123.157 mph.
34. (43) Aric Almirola, Ford, 123.110 mph.
35. (83) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 122.624 mph.
36. (55) Alex Kennedy, Chevrolet, 122.193 mph.
37. (32) Boris Said, Ford, 122.157 mph.
38. (46) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 121.202 mph.
39. (30) Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 119.246 mph.
40. (38) Landon Cassill, Ford, 0.000 mph.