AVONDALE, Ariz. — Carl Edwards won the pole at Phoenix International Raceway in Friday’s qualifying with a track-record lap.
Edwards ran a lap of 136.389 mph in a Ford for Roush-Fenway Racing to earn the top starting spot in Sunday’s race. He broke the record of 135.854 set by Ryan Newman in 2004.
“It’s very important to start up front, and it’s one of the things we’ve been focusing on, qualifying,” Edwards said. “It’s really important here. This track, like almost all tracks we race on, track position is so important.”
AJ Allmendinger qualified second for beleaguered Richard Petty Motorsports with a lap of 136.250, and Kurt Busch was third for Penske Racing with a 136.240. The top three drivers all broke the track record.
The three championship contenders will start fairly close together, with Denny Hamlin qualifying 17th, four-time Phoenix winner Jimmie Johnson in 21st and Kevin Harvick at 29th.
For Allmendinger, it was a near-miss of the pole at a time his race team could use a lift. RPM’s financial situation is rocky, and its cars and engines are held by partner Roush each week until the organization receives a check from RPM.
The situation played out publicly this week when the RPM transporters waited at Texas Motor Speedway until Roush finally gave them the cars they could bring to Phoenix late Wednesday.
“There’s no secret right now of what our race team is going through right now,” Allmendinger said. “I think there are two scenarios that can happen in a situation like this, you can try to band together and be stronger and come to the race track more focused, or you can let things start tearing you apart.
“It’s wearing on everybody. It wears on me. But with that said, everybody on the race team is not letting that effect them.”
AVONDALE, Ariz. — Kyle Busch has had discussions with IndyCar driver Tony Kanaan about having the Brazilian run some NASCAR races for Busch’s team.
“I told him that with Toyota’s support and with the support of the Trucks Series, I think it would be kind of fun to see him,” Busch said Friday at Phoenix International Raceway.
“Test him a little bit, get his feet wet. Get him in some good equipment, go out there and run some races and get some experience. Maybe next year and maybe 2012 go on in a full year. That’s kind of what I explained to him.”
Busch said Kanaan has yet to decide if he’s interested in competing in the Trucks Series.
Kanaan, the 2004 IndyCar champion and winner of 14 races, is currently looking for a job in the IndyCar Series. He was released from Andretti Autosport at the end of the season because the team does not have a sponsor for him in 2011.
“Whether or not he wants to do that or venture down this pathway, I respect his decision to stay in the IRL,” Busch said. “That’s where he’s made his bread and butter, and that’s where he’s really good. If that’s where he decides to stay, that’s good for him.”
Busch is in his first season of ownership in the Trucks Series. He’s won seven races driving his own equipment, but has had funding issues and other struggles associated with a startup team.