Carl Edwards earns pole for Sprint All-Star Race

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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.

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Teammates James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens earn top-fives at Barber

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For the first time this season, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates James Hinchcilffe and Robert Wickens earned top-five finishes in the same race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.

Hinchcliffe finished third in the Grand Prix of Alabama; Wickens was one spot behind in fourth.

Wickens had one previous podium at Phoenix with his second-place finish. Hinchcliffe’s best result was a fourth in the season-opener in St Petersburg, Fla., so this marked his first podium of the year.

Both drivers needed a little help from the rain.

As precipitation began to fall in the closing stages of the race, Hinchliffe asked his team on a couple of occasions if it was wet enough to pit for rain tires. He was told twice to stay out and was then called into to the pits at the optimal time.

“Solid weekend for us after coming here before – not a great test,” Hinchcliffe said. “Two cars in the top 10 qualifying; two cars, top five in the race. Pretty proud of these boys, everybody on the Arrow car.”

The rain helped Wickens’ race strategy come together.

“I was having to save a lot of fuel in that second stint,” Wickens said. “So once (Scott) Dixon starting getting close to me I was thinking ‘Oh God, I’m going to actually have to give this one up.’ And then the rain came, so the fuel mileage happened naturally. So, yeah, it saved us a bit.”

And while both were pleased with their top-five finishes, drivers are rarely satisfied unless they are standing on the top step of the podium.

Wickens’ top-five finish was hard-fought. After winning the pole at St Petersburg and starting sixth at Phoenix, he failed to advance to the Fast 6 in back-to-back races at Long Beach and Barber – qualifying 10th both times.

“I was a little gutted that we came out in a big bunch of traffic,” Wickens continued. “It made the race fun, but a little frustrating as well because of people off sequence and whatnot. We lost a lot of track position there. Both of us could have been fighting for higher steps on the podium, but we need to do a little better job in qualifying. “