Tag:Ford 400
Posted on: November 22, 2011 4:40 pm

NASCAR finale earns record TV ratings

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

The final race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup featured a down-to-the-wire battle for the championship and earned the largest viewership ever for a NASCAR Sprint Cup race telecast on ESPN.

With a peak audience of 10.5 million when the checkered flag fell on champion Tony Stewart at 8:08 p.m. ET, ESPN’s telecast of the Ford 400 from Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, Nov. 20, averaged 6,799,000 viewers and earned a 4.6 household coverage rating (4.0 U.S. rating), according to the Nielsen Company. The viewership average broke ESPN’s previous record of 6,668,000 viewers for the 2008 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis. Final figures do not include a rain delay from 4:45-6 p.m.

Viewership was up 21 percent and the rating was up 18 percent from last year’s event, which also aired on ESPN and earned a 3.9 coverage rating and averaged 5,605,000 viewers. In addition, the 2011 race out-delivered the 2009 race that aired on ABC and earned 5,607,000 viewers and a 3.6 U.S. rating.

Ratings for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup on ESPN and ABC increased 14.8 percent from 2010, averaging a 3.1 U.S. rating compared to 2.7 for last year (not including the rain-delayed Chicagoland Speedway event, which was run on a Monday). Also, excluding rainout races, ESPN and ABC’s NASCAR Sprint Cup coverage for 2011 averaged a 3.2 U.S. rating, up more than six percent from a 3.0 for last year.

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Posted on: November 21, 2011 1:20 am
Edited on: November 21, 2011 1:28 am

Stewart: One of the greatest races of my life

Posted by Brian De Los Santos

View highlights of 2011 Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart's post-race news conference from Homestead or listen to the complete session below.

Listen to Tony Stewart's complete post-race news conference:
Part 1 featuring Stewart, Gene Haas and Darian Grubb (22 minutes, 45 seconds):

Part 2 featuring Stewart, Haas and Grubb (41 minutes, 17 seconds):

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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: November 20, 2011 10:34 pm
Edited on: November 20, 2011 10:47 pm

Carl Edwards: I drove it to the edge and beyond

Posted by Pete Pistone

Carl, terrific season, terrific effort tonight.  I'm just going to throw it over to you.  Talk about your race out there tonight and the effort.

CARL EDWARDS:  Well, the effort was all season.  We finished the last two races of last season very strong and we believed in what we were capable of this year.  And I think we proved to ourselves that even with adversity and the things that we faced throughout the Chase, the bad runs that we had, and the mistakes that we made and recovered from, that we can compete for these championships.

And you know, I guess the only thing I'm able to take away from this that's really positive is something I think's really important is that at least we know that we can compete with any of these people.  We can compete with a two-time champion or three-time champion now winning half of the Chase races; we can still score as many points as them.  That's a big deal.

And I know that there are a lot of tests in life and I think that the last three or four weeks have been a huge test for me and for my team mentally.  You know, for us to keep our confidence up, to keep our cool, and to go out and perform and do our jobs, I'm really proud and believe next year we'll do even better.

Q.  Can you even begin to describe your thoughts those last 15, 20 laps, and it got down to 12,11 you and started to see that you just were not catching him?

CARL EDWARDS:  I tell you, for me, I thought back to a lesson that I was reminded of at Iowa, second race with Ricky Stenhouse and that was to never, ever, give up, period, ever.  I was fully prepared for Tony to run out of fuel, for him to have a tire problem, for anything to happen, for a caution to come out and have a restart.  That's all I can do is to be as prepared as I can be.

I didn't really let myself think about the consequences of what was going on.  I just had to go drive the hardest I could, and I did.  I mean, that's -- I drove it to the edge and beyond, and that's all I had.

Q.  I can't help but watching you, thinking that you will spend the rest of the off-season thinking about what you have to do, where you lost that edge and what you can do to come back and just be even better than you are right now.  Is that pretty accurate?

CARL EDWARDS:  Yes.  Here's the deal.  Whether we won tonight or we lost, I mean, tomorrow is the start of the next season.  I was prepared before this race began to do exactly what I'm going to go do and that's to be even better next year and to apply what I've learned here.

We knew we could come into this thing and we knew that of all of the circumstances that could happen, this one was the least probable.  I mean, for us to finish like that, tied, fighting for the win.  That is the least probable outcome.

And so I was prepared for anything.  I knew that this was a possibility, though, and I was prepared for this.  And I told myself, I told my family that the one thing I'm going to do is I'm going to walk back to that most home, win, lose or draw and I'm going to be a good example for my kids and work hard and go be better next season.  Because, you know, we talked about it before the race, even if we won this thing, you go halfway through next season you and struggle, that's quickly forgotten.

As painful as this is right now, I know that we have -- we are fortunate to have the opportunity to go to Daytona and just start all over again and go race.

Q.  Can you share with us what you said to Bob Osborne when you got out of the car and shook hands?

CARL EDWARDS:  I just wanted to make sure that Bob knew that I believe he's the best crew chief here, and that he will be my crew chief for as long as he wants to be, and I'm behind him and his decision 100%.

As tough as it is for me, you know, it's tougher, I think, for those guys, the guys that prepare these cars and determine which things we are going to work on throughout the year and what strategies we are going to use.  They make some very, very big decisions that they can't turn around -- inaudible -- is great or greater than mine.

Q.  Obviously you're in the moment now and there's disappointment, but this race obviously generated a tremendous amount of interest, you could see on the Internet and on Twitter.  Can you take a second to step back and maybe just think about the whole drama of it; has there been something comparable that you've been involved with in your career?

CARL EDWARDS:  No.  I wish I could do this every day.  There are lessons that I learned and things that I learned about myself, about competition, about failure and things about success; things that I could not have learned any other way.  If there weren't any pressure, there weren't be any diamonds, that's what my trainer says.

We dealt with a lot of pressure and I feel very proud of the way our team and myself and everyone has handled everything through this, and I feel that we made it all the way through, and although we didn't come out with the outcome that we wanted, that we are better because of it, you know, and I'm not trying to be philosophical or anything.

I'm truly telling you, if I'm in this position next year, I'm going to be better at it.  I'm going to be -- I'll be better.  So that's cool.  That's something you don't get every day is a lesson like this.

Q.  Before tonight, did you kind of prepare yourself for the fact that it very well could end up where it did, and the fact that you are still -- you're not nearly to the end of your career, and you've proven you're championship-caliber.  Did you prepare yourself for that?  And how did you deal with all of the trash talking that Tony was doing?  Now that it's over -- how did you really deal with that?

CARL EDWARDS:  It's easy.  You just have to -- I talked to you guys one time, I said there's Kipling's poem I can't remember the title of it, but when he said, 'You have to meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same.'  That's the truth.

There's nothing saying that this loss here tonight won't spur a chain of events that could lead to some serious success in the future, and you guys are looking at someone who is not going to miss out on that.

I'm very aware that time is a funny thing.  You can't go back and change anything but you can sure as hell change what's going to happen and I will be better and I will do a good job.

Yes, to answer your question, I was prepared for this.  I thought a lot about this.  Like I said earlier, I feel like we kind of -- I feel like personally, I passed the test.  I didn't fall into the trap of the trash talking and the -- I didn't change the person I am to go compete at my highest level.  I felt like I did it my way, and I'm proud of that.

Q.  And what's it like to be part of that, everywhere you turn, he's there and everywhere he turns, you're there.

CARL EDWARDS:  Like I said earlier, I think it's been a true test.  It's been a battle.  As best I can, right now, if I step back, away from this, and look at it, and I say, okay, here are two guys, one of which has a lot more experience in these situations than the other.  Won half of the races in the Chase.  And the other guy, I mean, stood his ground, did a darned good job of forcing these guys to perform their best.

I'm proud of that.  And I think that what you just said, the fact that it was that way, that it just turned into this, you know, man-to-man battle, that was very interesting.  That's something that you don't see in this sport.  It shouldn't happen.  It only, I believe, happened because subconsciously everybody on these teams just raised their level of performance.

And to be honest with you, I was very, very impressed with Tony.  I think that for all of the talk and all of the chest-pounding that he did, I could see that he was really -- I mean, he was nervous about this, too.  I mean, they had to perform at a very high level, and I honestly thought that there was a good chance tonight of them making a mistake; of him over-driving, trying too hard, and they showed a lot of mental toughness to watch us go lead the first half of this race essentially and not panic, not make mistakes.  I thought they did a really good job.

Q.  Yet it comes down to a tiebreaker, I mean, how does that -- how do you go to sleep with that tonight knowing you were tied?

CARL EDWARDS:  I would compete with him in just about anything else to break that tie, if we could set up something -- (Laughter).  But yeah, that's pretty amazing.

I'm telling you guys, this is not -- I'm not just saying this because I didn't win the thing.  But I think we could run this race ten times and it would -- it's a 50/50 deal.  A little different pit stop, a little different restart here; you know, ten pounds of spring somewhere on this car, the race could have been a lot different -- not a lot different but the roles could have been reversed.  I think it's just amazing.

I'm sure there will be people that will say, this was fake, this was set up, because it's just so unbelievable.  I mean, it's like a movie, you know.

Q.  The difference tonight, was it this race?  Was it a whole season?  Where was the difference, when you look back, how will you look back in a tie-point situation?  And also, you seem to be putting on as good a face as possible.  Is this how you feel or is there --

CARL EDWARDS:  I'm telling you guys, this is how I feel.  This is how I feel, I'm not BS'ing you, this is me.  I'm not going to go rip the door off my motor home or freak out or anything.  I'm going to go hang out with my family and we'll go to the beach tomorrow and go celebrate Ricky's championship.

But I think it's important to look back and come up with things -- you know, look at things you could do differently to really analyze everything and to see where you did things wrong, you did things right.

My true feeling right now, my real -- like my gut feeling in my heart, is that I'm just -- I'm obviously disappointed we didn't win.  That would have been a spectacular result, okay.  But I'm very proud, some of the best races I've run in my life, were this Chase.  Kansas was unbelievable.  Martinsville, I've never used my head as much as I did at Martinsville.  I've never been able to put down my frustration like I did at Dover.

If I look back on this Chase, there's not one thing that I say, man, I wish I'd have done this or I wish I'd have done that.  This whole season has gone very well.  I'm truly proud of this season.

I mean, but it's over.

Q.  Carl, you're talking about your feelings right now and the momentum that you're actually carrying over.  How does that affect your off-season?  You're already ready for next season, but talk a little about your off-season.

CARL EDWARDS:  Well, this disappointment tonight, it won't affect us for next season.  That's something that you have to do as a competitor, especially at this level.  You have to realize that effort --

Q.  Even if you lost, I'm still trying to figure out, what was going on and how in the world -- how did he get ahead of you.

CARL EDWARDS:  Well, what they did was they stayed out, and I think they almost ran out of fuel.  They pitted -- they did a really good job staying down on the lead.  But they pitted for four tires.  The rain came, and caution was, you know, came out and we only had a couple laps on our tires, so we came in and -- came in really hard.

If they for some reason shortened the race, we would have won it that way.  And then that's the box we were in, so we reached that -- and I don't know if that would have made the difference or not.  But he would probably do the same thing -- we would just -- -- but it doesn't appear so.  If we had to do it over again, we would probably do the same thing.  We would just hope that that rain didn't come, and then we would get another caution.

Q.  Inaudible.

CARL EDWARDS:  I was and it seems that they were just going to try to make it on that stop and save fuel, which is pretty risky, I thought.  I really thought that for a second, I thought that -- just take it easy on the engine, but we didn't have any trick engine stuff or anything that I was aware and nobody told me about it so I wasn't too worried.

Q.  I know that early in the race, you were more focused on what you were doing, Tony gets a big hole knocked in the grill, the front of his car, sends him to the back --

CARL EDWARDS:  I think that's why the fans saw such a good race because this track allows to you do that.  If you have a fast car you and do your job and you drive hard, you can pass people here.  The fans got to see that, and then, you know, that was just a good job.  They did a really good job of recovering from that stuff.

Q.  Congratulations on an amazing season.

CARL EDWARDS:  Congrats on keeping the mustache all week.  Appreciate that.  That's good.  (Laughter) I like it.

Q.  Until the end of the month.  And not sort of add insult to injury, but a 4.9 average is what you posted in the Chase and that would be good enough to win every single Chase, but this one.  Could I just get your thoughts on that?

CARL EDWARDS:  We performed very well.  I feel like over the whole season, we performed really well.  I don't know if anyone scored more points in the whole season than we did.  I'm not sure about that or not.  There's a lot of pride or not.  We did that in 2008, and I think we did that now -- does anybody now, does that seem accurate or not?  I mean, we just performed the best we can.  Every week, we put out the best effort we can, and we were one point shy.  So I mean, that's just the way it is.

Q.  The historical significance of this race, I don't think there's ever going to be another championship that comes down to tie, what does that mean to you, and I know you came out on the short end of it.  I literally was jumping up-and-down because it was just that exciting.  What does that mean to you?

CARL EDWARDS:  It's neat.  It's neat to be a part of something like that.  It's not neat to lose, but like I said earlier, that's a position that -- I can't think of another thing I can go do that would be, that, would capture my attention and my focus and my effort like this has.

So it's neat to be a part of something like that.  I think it's good to be a part of things like this.  And I think in the end, it's just making me a better racer, a better person, able to deal with stuff like this.  It's amazing.

Q.  I don't know if you know the answer to this question, but just curious, how do you think Bob will handle this?

CARL EDWARDS:  I think Bob will handle it well.  Bob is a very, very mentally tough person, mentally tough.  He's hard on himself.  He'll figure out things that he can do better.  But that's one of the neat things about Bob, he just keeps his head down and he works.  So I think this is -- this will be good.

I think we'll just come up with things that we can do to be better, but I mean, really, we all just rose our level of performance.  We raised it to -- we rose to the occasion, and that was -- I truly don't think we could have done much better in this Chase with, like I said, the circumstances that we had and the way things went.  I was very proud of every point we gathered through the whole thing.

KERRY THARP:  Certainly one of the classiest acts we've ever seen in sports.  Congratulations on a terrific, terrific season, and all the best to you and your family over the holidays.

CARL EDWARDS:  Thank you guys, very much.  I appreciate the hard work and I know you guys are going through a lot of struggles, too.  Hopefully this race and this excitement helps with the whole sport but I really appreciate everything you guys have done for us, and I hope you have happy holidays.  Thanks.

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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: November 20, 2011 10:25 pm
Edited on: November 20, 2011 10:32 pm

Martin Truex Jr. post-Homestead comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

Yeah, it was -- running good and having a solid race.  The guys on pit road did a nice job, no mistakes, and, you know, we have had a season where we have beat ourselves a lot and we have done some things wrong and we have had a lot of bad luck.  You know, we have had part failures and things.

But throughout the course of the season, I've had a great team, and we have had good speed in our race cars.  We were no match for Carl or Tony tonight, but we were a solid third-place car, and for us, that was a good day.

Just excited about the job everybody has been doing here lately.  We have ended the season on a strong note.  We kind of took a step back there at Talladega with the windshield and penalties and all the stuff that came with that, and rebounded nicely without my normal crew chief being here.  We had two or three different crew chiefs the first couple of weeks and then Scott Miller came in the last two weeks, our new competition director and called the race for us and did a lot of things that helped us.

All in all, a good way to end the season and proud of my team for what they have done the last couple of weeks.  We know when we need to do in the off-season like I said the other day.  So we are excited about the work we are going to do this year and excited about what lies ahead for us next year.

Q.  Michael Waltrip Racing has staked its future on you and even after just one season, you are the senior guy.  What you have done these last several races, what's your confidence level like moving forward into 2012?

MARTIN TRUEX, JR.:  Well, I'm cautiously optimistic.  At the end of the season last year we felt good.  We kind of ended similar.  We were running well.  Our cars were strong.  We started this year off really good, but we had too many bumps in the road.  We made too many mistakes.

Obviously we had some bad luck.  We got caught up in four or five, I think six wrecks that we had absolutely nothing to do with.  That hurts.  There were some things that we could have done better.  Certainly the penalty we got a few weeks ago, we broke a few parts throughout the season that we probably shouldn't have and those things set us back and took us out of contention into being in the Top-12 and possibly make the Chase.

I'm excited.  I think obviously we are still a young team.  Rob and Michael and everybody at MWR, they have put a lot into this.  Especially throughout the mid part of this season, that we really went to work on our aero program, our chassis program, put a lot of effort into making our stuff better with the help of TRD and all of the people there and the folks at Toyota.

They have put a lot into it and it’s paid off for us.  I feel like our stuff is getting better.  Still not where it needs to be but we are working hard.  We have got some new people, obviously coming aboard driver-wise, team-wise.  Scott Miller coming over to be our competition director is definitely going to help us.  It's a position that we really have not had for most of the season.  Nobody has been in that position.

All of those little things hopefully will add up and they are doing a lot of things to make our team stronger and at the end of the day hopefully those things will help us.

Q.  Inaudible.

MARTIN TRUEX, JR.:  It was really cool honestly to see those two guys up front all night long.  You could not ask for a championship to obviously come down to be more exciting.  Those two guys were really fast, and it's -- you watch those two race like that, and you understand why they are here, why they race for the championship.  You know, as fast as those two were tonight, it was pretty incredible.

Just have to congratulate both of them, both of their teams on what they accomplished.  That thing could have went either way.  One pit stop, one mistake -- it was cool to watch.  I do wish I could have beat them both, though, and they could have raced for second.

Q.  Inaudible.

MARTIN TRUEX, JR.:  Oh, that would have worked.  That would have been good for you.  Tried my best.

KERRY THARP:  Martin, thanks so much.  Good season and we'll see you in the off-season.

MARTIN TRUEX, JR.:  Hope everybody has a happy Thanksgiving.

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Posted on: November 20, 2011 9:43 pm
Edited on: November 20, 2011 10:27 pm

Speed Read: Homestead

By Pete Pistone


HOMESTEAD, Fla. - NASCAR's been around for more than 60 years but it's never been better than Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The Ford 400 season finale was exactly the elusive "Game 7" the sport had been searching for and so much more.

Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards waged a championship battle like never before and might never be matched again, with a tiebreaker necessary to determine the title a first for NASCAR.

And they did it in the best way possible, going head to head with one another over the course of a dramatic 400 miles around the mile-and-a-half South Florida oval.

Like two heavyweight boxers, Stewart and Edwards traded body blows with one another swapping the point lead, maneuvering their way in and around traffic and then finally racing against each other for the checkered flag and the crown.

It was exactly what the week-long hype had promised and the duo delivered.

But even the combatants couldn't believe what transpired after they had time to reflect on what they'd both been through.

"I would compete with him in just about anything else to break that tie, if we could set up something," Edwards cracked when asked how it felt to have his entire season come down to a tiebreaker.

"But yeah, that's pretty amazing. I'm telling you guys, this is not -- I'm not just saying this because I didn't win the thing.  But I think we could run this race ten times and it would -- it's a 50/50 deal.  A little different pit stop, a little different restart here; you know, ten pounds of spring somewhere on this car, the race could have been a lot different -- not a lot different but the roles could have been reversed.  I think it's just amazing."

While Stewart came out the victor ,even he had a hard time completely grasping the events of the night.

"We were confident coming in and didn't get down when we had trouble early," he said referring to damage that knocked a hole in the front end of Stewart's grille early in the race. "But you just never know what can happen out there and even though the car was fast, we had good strategy and I truly felt we could pull this deal off, until that checkered flag flew it's impossible to know how it's going to end."

After Stewart finally delivered the knockout blow, Edwards was left to ponder what might have been and how his ultimate disappointment might ultimately impact him going forward.

"It's been a battle," Edwards said as he tried to size up the experience.  "As best I can, right now, if I step back, away from this, and look at it, and I say, okay, here are two guys, one of which has a lot more experience in these situations than the other.  Won half of the races in the Chase.  And the other guy, I mean, stood his ground, did a darned good job of forcing these guys to perform their best.

"I'm proud of that.  And I think that what you just said, the fact that it was that way, that it just turned into this, you know, man-to-man battle, that was very interesting.  That's something that you don't see in this sport.  It shouldn't happen.  It only, I believe, happened because subconsciously everybody on these teams just raised their level of performance."

The NASCAR season was raised to an off the chart level on Sunday that will be hard to top any time soon.


Martin Truex Jr. - He's the anchor of the newly-retooled Michael Waltrip Racing team and ended the season with a solid outing and a third place finish. Truex Jr. will be under the spotlight next year as MWR moves to its next level of operation and goes into the off-season with much-needed confidence.

Kasey Kahne - His impressive one year stay at Team Red Bull came to a close with yet another top ten finish in the Chase. Kahne's events place finish was the final calling card for team GM Jay Frye to bring in new investors to keep the organization on track next season.

Jeff Burton - There are reportedly some big changes on the horizon at Richard Childress Racing but Burton most likely would want to keep things status quo after the way he's ended the 2011 season. The veteran driver once again showed there's more in the tank with a solid tenth place finish on Sunday.


Kurt Busch - His dismal Chase ended only two laps into the season finale when Busch slammed the wall and was out of contention before the fans got settled into their seats. Busch had a transmission failure and as expected let his team know about his displeasure on the radio. Speculation that crew chief Steve Addington won't have to listen to Busch's tirades any longer picked up steam over the weekend with a new home at Stewart-Haas Racing reportedly awaiting him for 2012.

David Ragan - In what could be his last Sprint Cup race for a while Ragan appears to have been the sacrificial lamb of Roush Fenway Racing when his R&D engine expire before the 100 lap mark. With RFR scaling back to three cars next year due to lack of sponsorship, Ragan is looking for work and may wind up in either the Nationwide Series or the Camping World Truck Series in 2012.

Jimmie Johnson - He ended his championship reign with a whimper as Johnson left Homestead with a 32nd place finish after spinning out in turn three. While it was inevitable that Johnson's amazing run would come to a close, it was still surprising how uncompetitive he was in this Chase after some early success. There are rumors of a potential shake up at Hendrick Motorsports including speculation of crew chief Chad Knaus moving into a different position within the company but it would be a major shock if Johnson and company didn't return fully intact to try and start another title streak next season.


(Choice comments and communications from drivers and crew chiefs)  

"They're going to feel like sh-- when we kick their a after this (damage)." - Tony Stewart after his initial trip to pit road for repairs

"They're REALL going to feel worse now after we win from the back twice." - Stewart after a second trip to pit road for a hung lug nut

"A little R&D and we just got the short end of this draw." - David Ragan after his fourth blown engine of the year sent him out of the race

"Motion the 22 driver to get it first gear and stop going at a grandma's pace!" - NASCAR official referring to Kurt Busch missing from grid when rain delay ended

"He's running into us, blocking us, effecting outcome of the race." - Carl Edwards on Kevin Harvick

Race Rating

On a scale of one to five "Pistone Pistons" I’ll give Sunday’s Ford 400 a five but I'm actually lobbying the bosses for an extra piston or two. Sunday's race wasn't just the best race of the season it was in the top five of NASCAR's all-time bests, which dates back more than 60 years. The epic championship battle between Stewart and Edwards came inside a race that regularly featured four and five wide racing and enough twists and turns for a full year. Sports don't get much better than what was on display Sunday night in Homestead and NASCAR as a whole can be very proud of the way the 2011 season came to a close.

Down the Road

The longest season in professional sports finally took the last checkered flag of the season and Sprint Cup 2011 is in the books. It will be remembered for a lot of things including competitiveness, first time winners, incredible points races and yes even some controversy.  Jimmie Johnson's title reign is over and Tony Stewart is the driver to do it. Although cars won't be in competition for the next two and a half months, the off season will be anything but quiet or dull. Expect news and some surprises before Speedweeks rolls around in February to officially begin the 2012 NASCAR season.

For more NASCAR news, rumors and analysis, follow @PPistone on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 

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Posted on: November 19, 2011 4:12 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2011 4:35 pm

Advantage Edwards - takes Homestead pole

By Pete Pistone


HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Carl Edwards made a bold statement on Saturday by winning the pole for the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The Chase for the Sprint Cup point leader will lead the field to the green in Sunday's season finale while championship competitor Tony Stewart starts fifteenth.

"This doesn't dampen the amount of effort we're going to put forth we're still going to go out there and race our race," said Edwards. "This is going really well so far and hopefully this helps us in the hole race."

Edwards has a three point advantage over Stewart coming into the finale and has an excellent shot at gaining a lucrative bonus point early on Sunday with his premium starting spot.

It was Edwards's tenth career Sprint Cup pole and third this season. The two-time Homestead winner scored his second pole at the 1.5-mile track.

But Stewart is not overly concerned about his title counterpart's qualifying success or his starting his position.

"Don't start etching his name on the trophy yet,'' Stewart said. (Edwards) put up a fast lap. His lap times fell off when he did a long run. Ours don't fall of as hard as his."

Stewart, who has carried a laid back attitude with him throughout the week including some good natured ribbing of Edwards, said he's had a lot of fun trading quips.

"I was kinda having fun talking with him. He's kind of an easy target," Stewart said. "It's like bringing a knife to a gun fight."

Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five.

Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin completed the top ten qualifiers.

Sunday's Ford 400 is slated for a 3:15 p.m. ET green flag.

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Posted on: November 19, 2011 2:30 pm

Junior okay with No. 3 return to Sprint Cup

By Pete Pistone

HOMESTEAD, Fla. - If Richard Childress decides to take the iconic No. 3 back to the Sprint Cup Series in the future he has Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s blessing.

Earnhardt said in his media session Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway he has no problem with his father's famous number being used again some day in NASCAR's top series.

Childress has used the No. 3 with his grandson Austin Dillon in the Camping World Truck Series and plans to move it with him to the Nationwide Series in 2012. Earnhardt said if the next evolution was to follow Dillon into the Sprint Cup Series he would support the idea.

"Yeah, I would," Earnhardt said. "Austin has ran that number and I’m not real sure; I just look at it differently. I don’t look at the numbers tied to drivers as much as just the history of the number. The number is more of a bank, you know, that you just deposit history into.

"It doesn’t really belong to any individual. Austin’s ran that number and you can’t really deny him the opportunity to continue to run it. It just wouldn’t be fair. Dad (Dale Earnhardt Sr.) did great things. He was a great ambassador for the sport and we’re still as a whole, reaping the benefits of all he accomplished and what he did that put us in front of a lot of people. But even before that, the number was Richard’s. Richard drove it. And someone else drove it before then. There’s a lot of guys in the fifties and sixties that ran that number with success. So the number is really kind of like a bank and you deposit history into and they don’t really belong to the individuals."

As far as Earnhardt is concerned the digit itself really doesn't carry with it the sense of history or memories he shares from the days of his father campaigning the No. 3. Junior believes there's a lot more to it than just a simple number being back on the track.

"It’s iconic when you put the colors and the style with it; it’s a little bit iconic to the sport," Earnhardt said. "Austin is a good kid, He seems to have a great appreciation for what’s happening to him and what’s going on around him. And I would be happy if he wanted to keep doing that. He kind of had to know when he first started to run that number if he got this far into the deal, he would have to cross a few bridges like that and that was a tough decision I guess at first to start running the number for him; knowing what kind of pressures he might face down the road. But I think it would be fine by me for him to do that. I think that it’s got to get back on the race track one of these days. It just can’t be gone forever you know?”

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Posted on: November 19, 2011 12:56 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2011 1:05 pm

Homestead Happy Hour to Edwards

By Pete Pistone


HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Carl Edwards added some confidence to his quest for a Sprint Cup title by leading Saturday's final practice session at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Edwards turned a lap of 171.124 mph to pace the last practice before Saturday afternoon's qualifying session.

His championship contending opponent Tony Stewart struggled with onyl the 28th best time of the session.

David Ragan, Cole Whitte, A.J. Allmendinger and Landon Cassill rounded out the top five.

Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard, Dave Blaney and Brad Keselowski completed the fastest ten drivers.

Qualifying to set the field for Ford 400 is set for 2:40 p.m. ET.

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