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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Fernando Alonso likes NASCAR country, but he’s not leaving F1 any time soon

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Jimmie Johnson strolled into the Charlotte Convention Center and did a double-take when he saw Fernando Alonso hanging out in a hallway.

“What’s he doing here?” NASCAR’s seven-time champion wondered.

Alonso made the trip to North Carolina to make an appearance at NASCAR’s annual preseason media tour. No, a ride in NASCAR is not imminent, but the two-time Formula One champion is about to embark on his first major sports car race .

Alonso will race this weekend in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona for United Autosports, the sports car team owned by his McLaren F1 boss, Zak Brown. It was Brown who paved the way for Alonso to compete in last year’s Indianapolis 500, and he is helping the Spaniard knock prestigious races off his wish list.

Alonso spent about 10 minutes chatting with Johnson, and the duo was eventually joined by sports car aces Scott Pruett and Joey Hand, who were brought to the NASCAR event by IMSA to help promote the Rolex, and then Cup champion Kevin Harvick.

The meet-and-greet with Alonso was a thrill for Johnson. Alonso was equally impressed.

“The first time I heard his name it was probably 2003 on the NASCAR video game,” Alonso said Tuesday. “I used to choose him, not knowing him, just because of the car. I remember playing with another friend of mine, he likes a chocolate company I will not name now, and he was choosing that car and I was choosing Jimmie’s car.

“But that was the first time I heard of him, and obviously the success that he has in the years in motor racing, he became a legend of our sport, and massive respect.”

Johnson said he’s always been a fan of Alonso’s and spent some time telling Alonso how well he ran in the Indianapolis 500 last May. Alonso led 27 laps and seemed to be in contention for the win until his engine expired 21 laps from the finish.

“He handled himself so well, really did a great job, and I think brought a lot to the table,” Johnson said. “He brought worldwide attention to motorsports and it was really good for us here stateside.”

While in NASCAR country, Alonso was asked about potentially trying a stock car someday. It’s not something that could happen soon, he said, but it is something he’d like to at least attempt.

“Right now, it looks quite far. The driving technique and the experience all those guys have, it’s difficult for me to achieve that level,” Alonso said. “I will never know until I try, so I would like one day to test a car and after that, driving the car, I will know how enjoyable it will be in racing.

“Outside (watching), the races are great because they are all in a group, it is not predictable at all and until the last lap, you don’t know what is going to happen. We love watching from the outside, but I don’t know from the inside.”

Alonso has so far only had three days of testing at Daytona in the sports car to adjust to a closed cockpit, as well as driving at night and in traffic. Trying different series has been a thrill for him, and he’s still eyeing a way to get Le Mans on his schedule.

“It’s one thing that I would like to do, I would like to compete in the best races in the world, and Le Mans and is one of the top races,” he said. “If that day will be this year or not is still to be discussed, but maybe yes.”

More AP Auto Racing: https://racing.ap.org/