Carl Edwards clinches sweep of Bristol poles in 2016

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After teammate Denny Hamlin was fastest in the first two rounds, Carl Edwards put down a lap of 131.407 mph to claim the pole for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

It’s Edwards fifth pole of 2016, his second in as many races and gives him a sweep of the poles at the short track this season.

“A little bit surprised, we didn’t make a mock (qualifying) run (in practice),” Edwards told NBC Sports. “That tells you how great of teammates I have. They’re so fast. They helped us a lot.”

Edwards’ five poles are a career high. Before 2016, the most he had in a season was three in three different seasons.

Edwards was followed by Hamlin (131.200), Kyle Busch (130.931), Ryan Blaney (130.637) and Matt Kenseth (130.619).

“I can’t believe we’ve qualified as well as we have this year and not gotten a pole, ” Hamlin told NBC Sports. Hamlin has an average start of 6.4 through the first 22 races of this season. “The top (lane) will definitely come in, it’s just a matter of if it will be quicker than the bottom. I think the bottom wears out tires, so you have to be aware of that.”

Blaney, the rookie for Wood Brothers Racing, will make his career-best start on a non-restrictor-plate track (fourth, Talladega 2014). His previous best was fifth at Michigan in 2015 and earlier this year.

“It’s been one of the smoothest day I think we’ve had,” Blaney told NBC Sports. “Our qualifying trim was really good and I thought our race trim was really similar, too.”

Jeff Gordon, making his fourth substitute start for Dale Earnhardt Jr., will start 11th. He hadn’t started better than 21st in his previous three outings. After qualifying, Gordon said he would not drive the No. 88 next week at Michigan because of a prior commitment. If Dale Earnhardt Jr. is not cleared to race the race there, Hendrick Motorsports said Alex Bowman will be in the car.

Behind him is rookie Chris Buescher, who earned his best Sprint Cup start. The Front Row Motorsports car is part of an alliance with Roush Fenway Racing and is the only Roush related entry in the top 12. Buescher, who won at Pocono Raceway in a fog-shortened race, is three points out of the 30th spot, which he must be within to qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Kyle Larson will start 23rd, followed by Kevin Harvick in 24th, marking his third straight race without advancing to the third round.

Greg Biffle spun with 16 minutes left in the first round and suffered light damage to his right rear quarter panel, Biffle had spun in the final practice session earlier Friday. The No. 16 will start 34th Saturday.

Tony Stewart, Jamie McMurray, Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. failed to advance out of the third round. Stewart will start 27th in his final Sprint Cup start at Bristol Motor Speedway.

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Saturday NASCAR schedule at Talladega Superspeedway

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Both the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series will race Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Cup cars will start the day’s action by qualifying for Sunday’s playoff race, followed by the Truck playoff race and then the Xfinity playoff race.

Talladega Superspeedway (Cup, Xfinity and Truck)

Weekend weather

Saturday: Sunny. High of 78.

Saturday, Oct. 1

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. — Cup Series
  • 9:30 a.m. — Truck Series
  • 1 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 10:30 a.m. – Noon — Cup Series qualifying (NBC Sports app, Motor Racing Network, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio)
  • 12:30 p.m. — Truck Series race (94 laps, 250 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 4 p.m. — Xfinity Series race (113 laps, 300 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.

Talladega Truck starting lineup: John Hunter Nemechek wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.

Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

MORE: Talladega Truck starting lineup

Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.

Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.

Saturday Talladega Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather

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The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.

Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.