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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The road to the 2023 Daytona 500 is not paved for Travis Pastrana, he’ll attempt the DIRTcar Nationals

Pastrana DIRTcar Nationals
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws
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Travis Pastrana will attempt to make his first NASCAR Cup series race on February 19 with the grandaddy of them all, the Daytona 500, but his road to get there will not be paved and his car will have only two fenders as he tackles Florida Speedweeks and the DIRTcar Nationals.

In mid-January, it was announced Pastrana will attempt to qualify a third car from 23XI Racing that fields fulltime entries for Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick. Sponsorship will come from Black Rifle Coffee, who approached him during the offseason to ask what kind of “really cool stuff” he would like to do. Pastrana replied, “the Daytona 500” with a characteristic laugh in his voice.

“It’s good,” Pastrana said in a press release. “We’re going to go down, we’re going to go hangout with [NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion] Matt Crafton, one of [Black Rifle’s] drivers, we’ll go to Modified races and watch all the Late Models. We’ll watch the racing, and we’ll bring [United States military] veterans down and hangout with [Steve] Arpin.”

But there is a saying among dirt track fans that goes, ‘asphalt is for getting to the track; dirt is for racing’ – and Pastrana is taking that to heart.

After racing on the snow in Nitro Rallycross February 4-5 in Calgary, Alberta, the original plan was to head to Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida to watch the modified and late model races. Until Crafton called him out for not racing.

Pastrana relayed the conversation: “I told Crafton [I was coming to watch] and he goes, ‘Ah, too much of a sissy to drive?’ I called Arpin, and said, ‘So, Longhorn, I heard you guys have vehicles that can kick the crap out of Crafton’s vehicle.’ [Arpin] said, ‘Yeah, if you don’t suck, you can beat him.’ I said, ‘Alright, I’m in.’”

The DIRTcar Nationals run from February 6-18. The first week features six UMP Modified Mains each night they run, on Monday (Feb. 6), Friday (Feb. 10), and then the prestigious Gator Championship race on Saturday (Feb. 11). Pastrana hopes to run every night in one of Arpin’s cars, also with sponsorship from Black Riffle Coffee.

And this is not just for bragging rights; there is money on the line. Pastrana and Crafton have a $1 bet on who has the best finish.

While Pastrana is accustomed pitching his car sideways on a combination of left and right turns in a rally car – he won the Nitro Rallycross race at ERX Motorsports Park in Minneapolis, Minnesota last October and became the first two-time winner in the 2022/23 season at Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix, Arizona in November – the DIRTcar Nationals will be an entirely different proposition.

It took a day for Pastrana to get comfortable in the modified. And it took a little coaching from Arpin, who has experience in both dirt modifieds and rally cars to make him fast.

“[Arpin] showed up the second day after hearing how bad the first day was,” Pastrana said, which is confirmed in the Instagram post embedded above. “But he just told me, until you commit, it’s not going to work. Once I committed, it started making a lot of sense. But coming in, if you’re lifting off the gas while trying to turn, it just doesn’t turn and all your natural instincts say, ‘Don’t get on the gas.’ So, yeah, I feel like it should suit my driving style because I’m more of an aggressive sideways type of driver, but it was very difficult. Turning and sliding, I’m fine. Getting it there is not the easiest.”

Pastrana has one previous start in a dirt late model that came in the 2010 Prelude to the Dream. He finished 23rd in the 27-car field and was three laps off the pace. He wasn’t the only driver having difficulty getting a feel for the car that night; Jeff Gordon finished on the same lap, only one position ahead of him.

Travis Pastrana will race one of Steve Arpin’s dirt modifieds during Florida Speedweeks as he prepares for the 2023 Daytona 500. – Jacy Norgaard, World Racing Group

The price of the weekend could well exceed the dollar he may lose to Crafton.

“It’s going to be an expensive weekend,” Pastrana said. “Not everything is covered. If I crash anything, it is going to be all on me. This is one of those things where I want to come down and have fun. I want to hang out with the crowd, I want to sign autographs and give high fives. Especially for the Modified crew, that’s the grassroots racing that I love and some of my friends are involved with. We’ll be camping down there with Arpin and all the Longhorn guys, just hanging out. I feel like that’s a great opportunity for us to bring a lot of [US] veterans and bring people that are into racing and aren’t into racing, friends and family, and just have an awesome time.”

And it’s not out of the question that Pastrana could add another top-10 to his record book in the DIRTcar Nationals. After the rocky first day, Pastrana gained speed. Enough so that Arpin’s confidence was raised.

“We’re pretty confident Crafton is going to have to run hard to keep his dollar,” Arpin said.