Carl Edwards took a jog and then ran into a problem. When he accidentally locked the keys to his rental car inside the vehicle this morning about two hours before qualifying was to begin for the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday.
Edwards got back on track and then posted the quickest qualifying lap of the day to capture the Coors Light Pole Award with a speed of 202.452 miles per hour in his Fastenal Ford
It wasn't a track record but it was more than fastest enough to push aside Kurt Busch (201.879 mph) and Kasey Kahne (201.213 mph), his two closest competitors. It was the 12th career pole for Edwards in his 316 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.
“We got the keys after we broke into the car and made it back,” Edwards explained. “It was good. It kept my mind off the stress of qualifying. It was a little adventure. I was just furthering the belief that drivers can't take care of themselves.”
The Columbia, Mo. native was not the only driver to eclipse 200 MPH. The first 13 drivers for the Quicken Loans 400 all averaged more than 200 MPH during their qualifying runs.
But Edwards, who was just 10th fastest during a practice session before qualifying, took care of the remainder of field with relative ease in garnering his first pole in 18 races at MIS. His previous best start was second last August.
“There are a few things I like about racing at Michigan,” Edwards said. “The first is that it is the site of my first Sprint Cup start, a huge day for me personally. I will never forget when they said, 'gentlemen start your engines.' That was one of the most emotional moments I've ever had in a race car. The second thing is it is really special to stand in victory lane here with Jack Roush (team owner from nearby Livonia, Mich., with 12 victories at MIS, the most of any owner).
“If you don't know him you should take a moment and talk with him because he is a true American hero.”
Marcos Ambrose's MIS track qualifying record of 203.241 mph to win the pole for the 2012 Quicken Loans 400 also made Michigan the fastest track in NASCAR.
A total of 19 drivers exceeded the 200 mile-per-hour barrier last June and another 13 topped the mark in qualifying on Saturday. The Gen-6 car and the repaved track proved to be a perfect match for fast speeds.
Busch was happy to be just one-tenth of a second off the pole-winning time, adding, “Carl posted a fast lap early on and I just wanted to go after it. The good news is we keep unloading fast. We are right there in the mix.”
Kahne and Busch ranked one-two respectively during an earlier practice session today while Edwards was 10th.
Austin Dillon posted the fastest practice speed (190.789 mph) today for Saturday's 22nd Annual Alliance Truck Parts 250 NASCAR Nationwide race scheduled to begin at 2:15 p.m. Time trials are slated to start at 10:35 a.m.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has two practice sessions scheduled on Saturday starting at 9:30 a.m. That is slated for 55 minutes. The second is scheduled for one hour and will start at 12:30.