Carl Edwards earns pole for Sprint All-Star Race

Leave a comment

Carl Edwards made it clear he wants the $1 million prize later Saturday night in the 30th annual Sprint All-Star Race, qualifying No. 1 less than two hours before the 90-lap, non-points race takes the green flag.

Edwards covered the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway with a very stout effort of 146.915 mph, marking his second career start from the pole in the All-Star race.

“It was fun,” Edwards said. “I had a plan to come on pit road and threw it out the window. … This is fun. I think I’m still shaking a little bit, this is so intense. Hopefully we can start out front and win a million bucks.”

Kyle Busch, who won the Camping World Truck Series race on Friday, was second fastest in Cup qualifying (145.791 mph), marking the fourth time he’s started the All-Star race on the front row.

Busch wasn’t completely happy once he climbed from his No. 18 Toyota Camry.

“I left a lot out there everywhere, not quite enough car grip that I wanted to have and not enough coming on to pit road that I would have liked to have,” Busch said.

Kevin Harvick was third-fastest at 145.560 mph.

Fourth through seventh were all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers: Jeff Gordon (145.441 mph), Jimmie Johnson (145.431 mph), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (145.111 mph) and Kasey Kahne (145.026 mph).

Matt Kenseth was eighth-fastest (144.807 mph), followed by Friday night’s winner of the Sprint Showdown, Clint Bowyer (144.328 mph), and 10th-fastest Joey Logano (143.890 mph).

The rest of the 22-driver field was: Jamie McMurray (11th at 143.702 mph), Martin Truex Jr. (12th, 143.230 mph), Brad Keselowski (13th, 142.692), Greg Biffle (14th, 142.026), 15th Tony Stewart (15th, 139.630), Brian Vickers (16th, 139.142), AJ Allmendinger (17th, 138.795), Kurt Busch (18th, 137.991), Josh Wise (19th, 133.674), David Ragan (20th, 128.696), Ryan Newman (21st, 123.873) and Denny Hamlin (22nd, 123.458).

The 90-lap, five-segment race will begin approximately 9:10 pm ET tonight.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
Leave a comment

COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”