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.

Cooper Webb leaps from obscurity to Supercross lead

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Cooper Webb could not even locate the radar tower before the 2019 season began – let alone expect to see his number dead center in the radar screen.

His ascent to 450 competition came with little fanfare. Finishing 13th in Supercross in 2017 and then eighth in Motocross, Webb did not turn many heads as a rookie. Last year was more of the same.

Through Round 7 at Arlington, Webb failed to record a single top five. That elusive result would come the following week at Tampa with a fourth-place finish. Two weeks later, he stood on the podium at Daytona for the only the second time in his Supercross 450s career. But at season’s end, Webb was only ninth in the standings in both Supercross and Motocross.

No one expected much from him when Anaheim rolled around this year.

Webb started the season much the same as he ended 2018. A fifth-place finish in Anaheim I in muddy and equalizing conditions was followed by a modest 10th at Glendale, but the rider from North Carolina believed in himself.

In professional racing, nothing is more difficult than winning the first race. Webb’s first taste of victory came in Heat 1 of the Triple Crown at Anaheim II. Everyone remained skeptical – it was only one heat race after all. The skepticism turned to interest when he won Heat 2. Then Webb finished third in Heat 3 to take the overall victory. It was his first win in the 450 class.

That was all it took to unleash his potential. Webb won the following week in Oakland and then again two weeks later in Minneapolis.

The Supercross riders left Minnesota and headed straight down Interstate 35 to Arlington with four of them separated by two points. All eyes were focused on Ken Roczen, Eli Tomac, Marvin Musquin – and, oh yeah Webb who sat in second.

Someone was likely to stumble in Arlington and the odds on favorite to do so was Webb. That seemed to be confirmed once the feature started. While the three more experienced riders led by Tomac scooted away from the field, Webb was mired outside the top five for the first six lap.

It was Tomac who tripped and fell, however. Webb passed the stricken rider and surged to fifth on Lap 7. He was in fourth by Lap 10 and third on Lap 16.  As Webb and teammate Musquin battled for the second, they slowly reeled in the leader Roczen. Once Webb broke free on the conflict with the runner-up position firmly his, he could see the red plate on Roczen’s Honda like a cape being waved in front of a bull.

Webb charged through the final six laps getting closer and closer until he edged Roczen for the closest finish in Supercross history. It was Webb’s fourth victory of the season, coming only four weeks after he scored his first career win.

Relive the final laps in the video posted above.

As incredible as Webb’s rise to the points lead is, it has been done before.

Last year Jason Anderson seemingly came out of nowhere to lead the standings after Round 2. Anderson held the advantage for the remainder of the year, while Webb has been part of a game of hot potato in which no one seems to want to don the red plate for more than a week.

The pressure continues to mount. Webb now has a two-point advantage over Roczen, who is the only rider to sweep the top five this season.

Webb’s advantage over third is a mere four points, while Musquin has a current five-race streak of podium finishes to his credit.

Tomac’s trouble in Texas serves as a cautionary tale that a single loss of focus can be devastating and Webb still lacks the seat time of his three principal rivals, but last week’s incredible come-from-behind victory is showing that Webb is riding above experience level.

Follow the complete Supercross and Motocross seasons on NBC Sports, Gold.