BROOKLYN, Mich. — The biggest question after qualifying for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Heluva Good Sour Cream Dips 400 was what happened to the big guns.
Points leader Carl Edwards will start back in the 23rd position in the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford.
Five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson is only two positions in front of Edwards in 21st spot in the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. And pre-race favourite Dale Earnhardt Jr. could only manage a 15th-fastest qualifying lap in the No. 88 HMS Chevrolet.
Kurt Busch will start on the inside of the front row Sunday — his third straight Sprint Cup pole — after he threw down a lap of 188.699 m.p.h. in the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge.
Edwards said that by the time he got to go out for his qualifying lap the track was really greasy, making just holding on to his Ford a real challenge. “We were just a little bit tight there,” he said. “The track is real slick.”
Edwards said, however, that he thinks he can make up for his poor qualifying with the car in race trim on Sunday.
“We have started pretty far back here before and made it up to the front with a fast car,” he said. “This is a place where you can pass. If there is a place to qualify poorly, it would be here.”
Earnhardt said it was driver error on his part that caused his 15th-place time. He said the car was almost perfect.
“I just under drove the exit of Turn 2 just a little bit and got loose in Turn 4 which cost us maybe a tenth,” he said. “I was real happy with how the car was all day. We should have a good time Sunday.”
Just a month ago, Busch had been critical of the Penske team’s results after a couple of poor outings early in the season. But he’s singing a new tune these days.
“With the way I wanted the team to go to steer the ship in the right direction; to see the results (of that) is rewarding.” Busch said.
Busch’s pole also marks the fourth race in a row that a Penske Dodge has started on the front row. And Busch said he would be in favour of awarding a championship point for earning top qualifying spot.
“The three points I would have gotten would not change where I am right now (sixth) in the championship, but they might make the difference by the time we get to (the final race) Homestead,” he said.
Beside Busch on the front row will be David Reutimann and third will be Matt Kenseth.