Edwards sets track record at Phoenix

By: AP
By: AP

AVONDALE, Arizona (AP) -- Carl Edwards had the fastest lap on one of the fastest days ever at Phoenix International Raceway, setting a track record to earn the NASCAR pole on Saturday and a chance to win two straight races in the desert.
Edwards, coming off a second-place finish at the Daytona 500, ran a lap of 137.279 mph (220.92 kph) to barely edge Kurt Busch on the final qualifying session before the track is repaved.
On a cloudy, cool day in the desert, 15 drivers eclipsed the old qualifying record of 136.389 mph (219.49 kph), set by Edwards on his way to winning last autumn. Kasey Kahne qualified third and Kyle Busch will start next to him for Sunday's 500-mile race around the crack-filled mile (1.6-kilometer) oval.
The track is just a few days away from the start of a $10 million repaving project that's supposed to be done before the playoff race in the autumn.
Maybe they should leave it alone with all the records falling this weekend.
Denny Hamlin didn't take long to knock off the mark before the session was even a quarter of the way through.
A few drivers later, Brad Keselowski knocked Hamlin off, bettering his record by two-tenths of a second. Kasey Kahne took that mark down a few more drivers later, lopping nearly seventh-tenths off Keselowski's record. Edwards had the record-topping run late in the session, finishing 0.167 ahead of Kurt Busch, one of the last drivers to qualify.
Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne was one of the few drivers who couldn't generate much speed on the record-setting day. The 20-year-old wrecked after his brakes locked up on the first lap of Friday's opening practice and ended up qualifying 33rd in his backup car.
Edwards had a breakthrough in his last time at Phoenix in November, ending a 70-race winless streak by saving just enough fuel to cross the checkered line and circle back for his patented celebratory backflip in front of the grandstand.
Edwards said at the time he hoped the win would jump-start his career again. He won at Homestead the following week, opened this season with a second at Daytona -- he was unable to get around Bayne at the end -- and will start up front again this weekend at a track he loves.


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