Homestead, FL (Sports Network) - Carl Edwards gained a huge advantage over Tony Stewart in their battle for the Sprint Cup Series championship by winning the pole for Sunday's season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Tony Stewart qualified 15th with his lap at 173.332 mph. Stewart enters the season-finale just three points behind Edwards.
Edwards, who was the second-to-last driver to make his qualifying run in the 48-car field, posted a lap at 175.467 mph for his third pole of the season and the 10th of his Sprint Cup career. He also won the pole at this track in 2005.
With the pole victory, Edwards' No.99 team claimed the first pit selection, which could play in favor for Edwards during his pit stops.
"That's huge," Edwards said. "That's just one lap, but that's a great start for us. We were great in practice. My guys did a great job today. That's what it's about, being able to come here and perform the best we can and not leave anything on the table. This is a great Saturday for us."
Edwards is the defending race winner at Homestead.
In the Chase for the Sprint Cup era (2004-present), three eventual champions have won the pole at Homestead. Kurt Busch did it '04, and Jimmie Johnson did so in 2007 and '09.
Stewart is attempting to win his third championship in the series. He is also trying to become the first driver/owner to win the title since Alan Kulwicki accomplished the feat first in 1992.
"The qualifying deal isn't how a race is going to play out, so this is one lap of 400 miles that we've got to go," Stewart said. "I'm glad that we spent more time on race trim than qualifying trim. We'll see how it plays out."
Martin Truex Jr. earned the outside pole after turning a lap at 174.808 mph.
Kasey Kahne, who won last weekend at Phoenix, qualified third, while Kurt Busch and his Penske Racing teammate, Brad Keselowski, rounded out the top- five.
Matt Kenseth took the sixth spot, followed by Jeff Gordon, Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin.
Scott Speed, Reed Sorenson, Mike Skinner, Scott Riggs and Grant Enfinger failed to qualify.
The 400-mile race at Homestead is scheduled to start just after 3:00 p.m. (et).
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