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INDIANAPOLIS — A rough past 10 days for Carl Edwards got a little better Saturday.
Following Edwards’ 18th-place finish two weeks ago at Loudon, N.H., crew chief Bob Osborne stepped down with undisclosed health issues. Team owner Jack Roush replaced him with Chad Norris.
Saturday afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Edwards qualified second for today’s Brickyard 400. His fastest lap of 181.984 mph trailed only Denny Hamlin’s 182.763.
“This is huge for us, and I think it’s a testament to our whole team, the ability to rally around a cause,” Edwards said. “After Loudon, we were all scratching our heads. We met on Monday, and Bob finally let us in on all the stuff he was struggling with, and we realized two things about him -– just how tough he is and he was able to perform through everything that he’d been going through the last year or so.
“Second, I learned how humble of a guy he is, to say ‘Hey, look, the best thing is to have Chad going forward, and however I can help is how I want to help,’ and that’s pretty amazing for a guy to be able to do that. To come here two weeks later and have a qualifying effort like this I think says a lot about Bob, Jack, Chad, all the engineers, everybody who’s put their effort into this,” he said. “It’s a great lap for us. I know it’s just one lap. Anything can happen in the race, but it’s really good.”
Edwards will introduce Justin Moore this morning before Moore’s concert at the track.
Turn 1 vexes Patrick
When Danica Patrick raced in the Indianapolis 500, Turn 1 at IMS gave her the most trouble. Now that she’s in the Nationwide Series, she still isn’t comfortable there.
“I always feel like Turn 1 has the most amount of issues for whatever reason,” Patrick said. “I don’t know if it’s partly because you get there a little quicker because 2, 3 and 4 are a little bit more smooth and the arc is nice and smooth through the corner. I don’t feel like there’s as much adjusting. I don’t know what it is, but Turn 1 has always been the issue, no matter what car I’ve been in now.”
Tony Stewart’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Ryan Newman, had a different perspective.
“This place is so sensitive,” Newman said. “You’re doing twice the work on one lap as any other racetrack. There’s four distinct corners, with an entry, middle and exit for each one of them, so you really have to get things right. If you miss one just a little bit, especially if you miss the even-numbered corners — 2 and 4 — they deal with the straightaways, and there’s so much time to be made or lost on the straightaways.”
“There are so many different nuances here that make this track tough, let alone going down the straightaway at 200 mph looking down into a flat corner and making it work,” Hamlin said. “Sometimes you’re tight, and sometimes you’re loose. You’ve got to find that fine balance, and that balance gets disrupted an awful lot in the air with the way that air moves around these cars.”
Gordon qualifies ninth
Indiana native Jeff Gordon is seeking a record fourth Brickyard 400 victory. He qualified ninth Saturday.
“I thought it was going to be a little bit better than that, and the way we practiced, I thought we had a little more speed,” Gordon said. “But you never know when the sun comes out, and the track (temperature) goes up. The car had good balance, just a little too free on the exits and corners, and I just couldn’t quite get the throttle down all the way as early as I wanted to. But all in all, I thought it was a pretty solid lap.”
Kenseth in control
Matt Kenseth heads into today’s Brickyard 400 as the NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader, and he likes the position. He qualified 10th.
“I think that depending on what your cushion is ahead of 10th or 11th, however you want to look at it, that’s where your pressure is,” Kenseth said. “Even if you aren’t the leader, if you get to a couple races to go and know you are going to be in the Chase, I don’t think the pressure is any different being the leader or being fifth.
“After the 26th race, they put the top 10 in order of wins, and right now, we only have one, compared to a couple guys that have three,” he said. “We know we need to pick it up a little bit and get another win or two hopefully before we get to the Chase, assuming that me make it.”
Michael McDowell, who had qualified, was struck from today’s race after failing post-qualifying inspection.
Officials found the nitrogen gas and rear shock in McDowell’s car exceeded allowable pressure.
No big celebration
Hamlin, who won the pole Saturday, said not to expect a big victory celebration if he wins today’s race.
“I really don’t have any ritual or anything that I have,” Hamlin said. “(Brad) Keselowski has the American flag, and Kyle (Busch) has the bow and Carl with the back flip. I just try to do the best burnout that I possibly can and just give the fans a treat.”
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