At Concord

Edwards and pit crew roar to All-Star pole

jutter@charlotteobserver.comMay 18, 2013 

— Can Dick Trickle reach Victory Lane in NASCAR one more time?

If Carl Edwards’ speed from qualifying translates into Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, his name at least could make one more appearance in the winner’s circle.

Edwards completed his three laps and four-tire pit stop Friday night in 111.297 seconds to win the pole for the all-star race. He did so with the name “Dick Trickle” over the driver’s side window of his No. 99 Ford.

Trickle, a Wisconsin short track ace and two-time winner in what is now the Nationwide series, died Thursday in nearby Lincoln County after an apparent suicide.

“A lot of my guys on my crew are from Wisconsin and we wanted to do something to honor him,” Edwards said. “I didn’t know if I deserved to have that name on my car.

“The first time I met him was in Michigan. I was 16 years old and melting down in the sun and here’s this guy in a black driver’s suit, with gray hair, smoking a cigarette out in the middle of the sun.

“I thought that was the toughest human being alive.”

Edwards’ current crew chief in the Sprint Cup Series is veteran Jimmy Fennig, who also served a stint as Trickle’s crew chief when he raced in the Cup series.

“Dick Trickle was a hero to over half my crew,” Edwards said.

Several drivers experienced problems during the pit road stop which was run with no speed limit on pit road and pit crews unable to begin servicing the car until it came to a complete stop.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. originally qualified second-fastest but dropped to 15th after he was assessed a five-second penalty for a loose lug nut.

Kurt Busch ended up as the second-fastest in qualifying, followed by Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano.

Logano managed to keep the fifth spot even though he overshot his pit stall during his stop and was forced to back up.

Edwards was one of many drivers who lauded the qualifying process NASCAR used on Friday night.

“This is such an exciting qualifying process and there was so much pressure and to get the pole is just spectacular,” he said. “Our car was fast. Our pit crew was fast. It was just awesome.

“This is the way we want to start this thing. We want to win all $2 million and want to win all the segments. This is the first part of our plan.”

Clint Bowyer, who ended up qualifying sixth, was just as excited with the absence of a pit road speed limit.

“Man, that’s a wild deal,” he said. “It’s amazing coming off pit road like that. It’s interesting, it’s exciting.

“That’s a fun event right there.”

Saturday night’s race features five segments. The first four are 20 laps each followed by a 10-lap shootout with $1 million going to the winner.

Track owner Bruton Smith has put up an extra $1 million if the winner of the all-star race leads all five segments.

Earlier in the evening, Martin Truex Jr. won the pole for the 40-lap Sprint Showdown which will be run prior to the all-star race. The top two finishers will advance into the all-star field.

The final spot in the field will be filled with the winner of the Sprint Fan Vote, which will be announced after the Showdown.

Utter: 704-358-5113

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