FONTANA, Calif. -- Carl Edwards led a Roush Racing sweep of
the top four spots in Saturday's qualifying for the Nextel
Cup race at California Speedway.
It was the first career pole for Edwards, one of six drivers
competing for the final three spots in the Chase for the
"I'm not the greatest qualifier and I'm learning a lot," said
Edwards, who has won two races in his first full season in Cup
racing. "I'm really excited to get to start up front in a race
that we really need to run well in."
The 26-year-old Edwards, driving in only his 38th race in
NASCAR's top series, turned a lap of 185.061 mph Saturday to beat
out Mark Martin's 184.833 for the top spot in Sunday's Sony HD 500.
They were followed by the Roush Fords of Kurt Busch at 184.403 and
Greg Biffle at 184.370.
The fifth Roush entry, Matt Kenseth, coming off his first win of
the year last week in Bristol, qualified 23rd.
With only two races remaining before the start of the 10-race
Chase, which looks as if it will include only the drivers in the
top 10 in points, eighth-place Edwards is only 84 points ahead of
13th-place Elliott Sadler, the defending race winner.
"I want to win this race," Edwards said. "But, at the same
time, I'm really aware of the points situations. To come out of
here and distance myself on the good of 10th place would be
Gordon, who had been fastest in practice both Friday and
Saturday, qualified sixth. He has a tenuous hold on 10th place,
with Kenseth just 11 points behind, McMurray 12 back and Sadler 34
Sadler will start Sunday's race 15th, with Newman 28th and
Dale Jarrett and Dale Earnhardt Jr., the only other drivers with
only slim mathematical chances of squeezing into the top 10 in the
next two races, were also far off the pace, qualifying 37th and
Jon Wood, the son of Wood Brothers co-owner Eddie Wood,
qualified 39th while filling in for Ricky Rudd, whose father died
Tuesday. Rudd was expected to arrive in California later Saturday
and will race on Sunday, starting from the rear of the 43-car field
because of the driver change.
"With what happened to Ricky's dad and the circumstances
leading up to it, I don't think anybody is really in the right
frame of mind," the younger Wood said. "I just kind of wanted to
make sure I didn't wreck it for him. I was just there filling in a
space that needed to be filled."