Carl Edwards leads JGR's 1-2-3 qualifying sweep at Bristol
BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) Carl Edwards is looking for Sprint Cup gold and there are few more successful spots him this season than Bristol Motor Speedway.
Edwards won from the pole at the track in April and on Friday led Joe Gibbs Racing's Olympic-style, 1-2-3 sweep of the top three spots in qualifying for the Saturday night race.
''Hopefully, we'll be sitting here tomorrow night at the end of this deal talking about how we did it in the race,'' Edwards said. ''That'd be pretty neat.''
Edwards had a fast lap of 131.407 mph on the concrete surface of the half-mile track in the final segment of the three-round knockout qualifying. He bested teammates Denny Hamlin in second and Kyle Busch in third.
Hamlin set the Bristol qualifying record of 131.668 mph in the first round of NASCAR's three rounds of knockout qualifications.
Ryan Blaney was fourth, his Ford disrupting a quartet of JGR racers as he finished a tick in front of Matt Kenseth.
Chase Elliott was sixth, followed by Martin Truex Jr., AJ Allmendinger, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano.
Jeff Gordon was 11th, his best showing in the four races he has subbed for injured Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Chris Buescher, the winner at Pocono last month, rounded out the top 12.
It looks difficult for anyone to crack what appears to be JGR's dominance. While most of the garage is scrambling for position to make the championship Chase, Gibbs' four drivers are already locked into the 16-driver field with a combined 10 victories in the season's first 22 races.
''All of our cars were all very fast,'' Hamlin said. ''When you've got drivers that have equal equipment, all good drivers, it will be close.''
Edwards claimed his 21st career Sprint Cup pole and fourth at Bristol. Hamlin will start in the top 10 for the 21st time this season while Busch will make his 16th top-10 start of the year.
Other things from Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday:
BIFFLE'S APPROACH: Greg Biffle might want to take a different tack at Bristol.
The Roush Fenway Racing driver spun out and slid - without hitting the wall - during Sprint Cup practice early Friday. Then during qualifying, Biffle did a way-too-similar spin slide.
He said he thought the car was strong and he was heading to a fast lap when he felt the car get loose and slip away.
Biffle is in need of a strong performance in Saturday night's race. After not finishing in the top 10 in the first 16 races, he had an eighth, sixth and fifth the next three weeks at Daytona, Kentucky and New Hampshire. The spurt didn't last and Biffle has ended 39th, 25th and 39th the past three races.
Biffle is starting 34th for the race.
LOGANO THREE-PEAT?: Joey Logano has won the past two summer night races at Bristol and believes he can make it three in a row this weekend.
Logano, locked into the championship Chase since winning at Michigan, has a string of consistently high finishes eight top-10s over the past 10 races - six of those top five or better. He will start 10th on Saturday.
The last driver to win two straight August events was Kyle Busch in 2009 and 2010. The last to win three straight summer events here was Darrell Waltrip in 1981, 1982 and 1983.
DALE JR'S REGIMEN: Dale Earnhardt Jr. is missing his fifth race this week since doctors believe he had a concussion from a hard crash at Michigan two month ago. He's keep fans and friends updated on his progress with a series of videos with things he must do to improve his balance and his focus on objects in the distance while moving his head.
There's one of him playing basketball. In another one, he details visual performance enhancement he must do for 25 minutes. ''It crosses your eyes and makes them do all kinds of funny things,'' Earnhardt said. ''It trains your eyes to work together and I need that.''