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Edwards on pole in Phoenix, as open wheel stars steal the show

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by Greg Cozzo
November 9, 2007

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Carl Edwards
NASCAR

Avondale, AZ – While Carl Edwards drove to his first Bud Pole of 2007 at Phoenix International Raceway in preparation for the Checker Auto Parts 500 presented by Pennzoil, he also joined in on the discussion about the impressive start to the weekend by Open Wheel stars Jacque Villeneuve, Patrick Carpentier and Sam Hornish Jr.

Edwards piloted his Office Depot / Roush – Fenway Ford Fusion COT machine around the unique 1 mile Raceway with a lap of 27.114, just nudging Martin Truex’s Bass Pro Shops #1 by 0.003.

Jeff Gordon, who won the spring race in Arizona, and first to win from the pole in the COT car, will launch off third. He starts three spots ahead of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup points leader Jimmie Johnson (6th). With only this race and Homestead remaining, every position counts, especially on a tight one mile track like Phoenix:

“There are still a lot of things we’re working on when it comes to the COT. Performance-wise, I think we have a little bit of an advantage over the 48 team (at Phoenix)," Gordon said.

The buzz of what many thought has been one of the strongest starting 43 drivers in NASCAR history has arguably been brought to yet another level with the influx of open wheel stars to the sport. Carpentier (24th) and Villeneuve (27th) qualified for their second NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race, while this will be the first oval race for Carpentier whose previous Cup experience was on the Watkins Glenn road course earlier this season. Villeneuve is speeding up the learning process by also competing in the last races of the 2007 Craftsman Truck Series which ran this weekend (finishing 19th in the Casino Arizona 150).

This will be Sam Hornish Jr.’s debut in the NEXTEL Cup in only his seventh attempt. The former Indianapolis 500 winner and IRL champ said that his previous inability to qualify is one of the key motivations to this move:

“I don’t enjoy being told I can’t do something. Until you sit behind the wheel and keep pace with NASCAR’s best, it's a learning process and we keep trying to learn as much as we can."

Sam Hornish Jr. has been the latest to commit to 2008 with a full race schedule for a third Penske team and the return of the #77, racing alongside Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman.

Existing Cup drivers, including Edwards are not threatened by the influx of drivers from other top series and their possibility of taking spots of other younger talent in the nation: “This series is so tough. Teams are looking for talent. Period. If they can't do the job, they won't be here for very long."

Jeff Gordon, who originally went to open wheel racing to break into the major leagues of Motorsports, said NASCAR works slightly opposite to other major Motorsports: “I walked thru the pits looking for ride in open wheel, and the first question was ‘who sponsors you.’ In NASCAR it’s the opposite, you find a driver with some talent, you sign him, and then go find sponsors to back the team.”

Either way, bar has been raised.

Results

POS CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR SPEED TIME BEHIND
1 99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot 132.773 27.114 Leader
2 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 132.758 27.117 -0.003
3 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 132.699 27.129 -0.015
4 18 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet Interstate Batteries 132.236 27.224 -0.110
5 70 Johnny Sauter Chevrolet FleetPride / Yellow 132.144 27.243 -0.129
6 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 132.130 27.246 -0.132
7 16 Greg Biffle Ford Dish Network 132.091 27.254 -0.140
8 96 Tony Raines Chevrolet DLP HDTV 132.057 27.261 -0.147
9 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 132.023 27.268 -0.154
10 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Dodge Dealers Lifetime Powertrain Warranty / UAW 132.023 27.268 -0.154
11 25 Casey Mears Chevrolet National Guard / GMAC 132.008 27.271 -0.157
12 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet AT&T Mobility 131.936 27.286 -0.172
13 12 Ryan Newman Dodge ALLTEL 131.917 27.290 -0.176
14 42 Juan Montoya* Dodge Texaco / Havoline 131.670 27.341 -0.227
15 11 Denny Hamlin Chevrolet FedEx Ground 131.627 27.350 -0.236
16 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Siemens / Dodge Dealers 131.569 27.362 -0.248
17 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar 131.560 27.364 -0.250
18 17 Matt Kenseth Ford DEWALT NANO Technology 131.545 27.367 -0.253
19 15 Paul Menard* Chevrolet Johns Manville / Menards 131.454 27.386 -0.272
20 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 131.401 27.397 -0.283
21 20 Tony Stewart Chevrolet The Home Depot 131.382 27.401 -0.287
22 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 131.348 27.408 -0.294
23 26 Jamie McMurray Ford IRWIN Industrial Tools 131.305 27.417 -0.303
24 10 Patrick Carpentier Dodge Sears Auto Center / Valvoline / Stanley 131.267 27.425 -0.311
25 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target 131.205 27.438 -0.324
26 06 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 131.062 27.468 -0.354
27 127 Jacques Villeneuve Toyota UNICEF 131.014 27.478 -0.364
28 01 Aric Almirola Chevrolet U.S. Army 130.976 27.486 -0.372
29 109 Sterling Marlin Chevrolet Miccosukee Resort & Gaming 130.933 27.495 -0.381
30 36 Johnny Benson Toyota 360 OTC 130.757 27.532 -0.418
31 78 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet Furniture Row Racing 130.738 27.536 -0.422
32 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 130.634 27.558 -0.444
33 84 A.J. Allmendinger* Toyota Red Bull 130.572 27.571 -0.457
34 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Cheerios / Betty Crocker 130.553 27.575 -0.461
35 88 Ricky Rudd Ford Pedigree 130.501 27.586 -0.472
36 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 130.468 27.593 -0.479
37 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Budweiser 130.449 27.597 -0.483
38 45 Kyle Petty Dodge Wells Fargo 130.091 27.673 -0.559
39 40 David Stremme Dodge Wrigley's Juicy Fruit 130.081 27.675 -0.561
40 5 Kyle Busch Chevrolet Kellogg's / CARQUEST 129.950 27.703 -0.589
41 7 Robby Gordon Ford MAPEI / Menards 129.898 27.714 -0.600
42 66 Jeremy Mayfield Chevrolet Haas Automation 129.716 27.753 -0.639
43 4 Ward Burton Chevrolet Lucas Oil / State Water Heaters 129.538 27.791 -0.677
44 49 John Andretti Dodge HealthLife.com 129.454 27.809 -0.695
45 6 David Ragan* Ford AAA Insurance 129.079 27.890 -0.776
46 21 Bill Elliott Ford Ore-Ida Extra Crispy / Heinz 128.411 28.035 -0.921
47 38 David Gilliland Ford M&M's 128.278 28.064 -0.950
48 44 Dale Jarrett Toyota UPS 128.155 28.091 -0.977
49 00 David Reutimann* Toyota Burger King - - -

+ Set by Owner Points
* Denotes Rookie

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