Points leader Stewart qualifies 20th
HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Carl Edwards keeps doing things nobody expects.
(Unofficial after final race)
|3. (+1)||Denny Hamlin||-68|
|4. (-1)||Kevin Harvick||-78|
|5.||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||-147|
|8. (+1)||Kasey Kahne||-292|
|9. (-1)||Mark Martin||-307|
Edwards, nearing the end of his first full season in NASCAR Nextel Cup with a mathematical chance to overtake veterans Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson for the championship, won the pole for Sunday's season-ending Ford 400.
Edwards edged qualifying ace Ryan Newman for his second career pole with a lap of 176.051 mph. Newman, who led all drivers in poles for the fourth straight season, turned a lap of 176.039. The time differential between the two was 0.002-seconds.
"It's a great way to start the weekend," said Edwards, who trails leader Stewart by 87 points and is 35 behind Johnson for the runner-up spot.
Stewart, the 2002 champion, qualified 20th and simply needs to finish ninth or better to close out his pursuers, no matter what they do.
"If we can just go out there and have a good run, we'll let the rest of it take care of itself," he said. "We don't have to create magic this weekend. We just have to go out and have a solid performance."
The day didn't start well for Edwards, who woke to find part of the floor in his motor home, parked in the infield at the track, flooded.
"I left the darned sink running all night and the people here at Homestead-Miami Speedway are so gracious, they leave you a water line hooked up, so you never run out of water," Edwards explained.
"Luckily, and this is great, my motor-home driver can't ever get it level. And I don't know how lucky I can be, but he had it listing to the left front, away from the bedroom so it all ran down the front of the motor home."
Now, Edwards hopes the good fortune will carry over to the rest of the weekend.
"I know what the numbers are, at least I think I do," the 26-year-old Missourian said. "I looked on the Internet last night. But I don't have any option other than to just go out and try to lead the most laps [for a five-point bonus] and win the race. I can't control how well those other guys are going to run."
Johnson, the runner-up each of the past two years, qualified 32nd on Saturday. A year ago, he was worse off, starting from the rear of the 43-car field after qualifying so slowly he had to use a provisional. But Johnson was able to move through the field and finish second, losing the title to Kurt Busch by just eight points.
"We feel like we have a good race car," Johnson said. "Our chances are good.
"Ideally, we'd like to win the race and lead the most laps," he added. "It's going to be a long 400 miles."
The only other driver with even a mathematical shot at the 2005 title is Greg Biffle, who qualified seventh. Biffle, the winner of last year's race, trails Stewart by 102 points.
"I'm not even thinking about the championship," Biffle said. "We're just going to try to win this race again."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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