Carl Edwards wins All-Star pole at Charlotte

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With the name of the late short track legend Dick Trickle above the door of his No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, Carl Edwards claimed the pole for tomorrow night’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Edwards, who won the 2011 All-Star Race, topped the time sheets with a speed of 145.556 miles per hour and will be joined on the front row by Kurt Busch (144.068 mph) after Dale Earnhardt Jr. was knocked from P2 because of a five-second penalty for a loose lug nut.

The All-Star Race sees drivers qualify by running three laps and taking a mandatory four-tire pit stop; the driver with the lowest total time earns the pole. Adding to the uniqueness of the format is that this year, NASCAR removed all speed limits on pit road during the qualifying (they’ll be back for the race). Per USA Today’s Jeff Gluck, Edwards entered pit road off Turn 4 at 154 mph.

Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch will make up Row 2 of the All-Star Race, with Joey Logano (who had the fastest speed entering pit road at 158 mph) and Clint Bowyer in Row 3. Denny Hamlin, Mark Martin, Kasey Kahne, and Jeff Gordon rounded out the Top 10.

Martin Truex Jr. won the pole for the Sprint Showdown preliminary event, which will see the top two finishers and the winner of a fan vote advance into the All-Star Race. Among the competitors in the Showdown will be Jamie McMurray, who will start on the front row alongside Truex, and Danica Patrick, who will start seventh.

Tomorrow’s All-Star Race will be split into five segments (four 20-lap segments and a fifth and final 10-lap segment). This year, the running order at the end of Segment 4 will be repositioned based on the average finish for the first four segments directly behind the caution car before pit road opens for a mandatory four-tire stop; how the cars come out of the pits will determine the starting order of the final segment.

The race winner will win a $1 million prize from Sprint. A second $1 million bonus — dubbed “Bruton’s Big Bonus” after Charlotte Motor Speedway and Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO Bruton Smith — is also in play if a driver can win all five segments of the event.

F1’s Valtteri Bottas to compete in first-ever rally race in his native Finland

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Formula One’s “Flying Finn” is going back home for the first time.

More precisely, Valtteri Bottas is returning to his Finland homeland to compete in his first career rally race in the Finnish Rally Championship season opener.

Bottas, teammates on the F1 Mercedes team with five-time champ Lewis Hamilton, will compete in the World Rally Championships’ Arctic Lapland Rally from January 24-26.

He’ll team with two-time World Rally champion Timo Rautiainen in a M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC on rally roads of the Finnish Arctic Circle.

“This is a unique opportunity to take a peek into the world of rallying,” Bottas told Finnish rallying website Rallism.f1. “I would like to thank everyone who has made it possible.

“It’s totally new territory for me too, as I have no prior experience of a World Rally Car. Still, being the race car driver that I am, you always go flat out whatever the vehicle you’re driving in.”

Added Rautiainen, “In my life, I’ve sat in a rally car with only three drivers, but this is such an interesting mission that I just had to accept the challenge. I believe that for a talented wheelman like Valtteri, we’ll be able to establish a good basic driving routine in testing.”

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