HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Carl Edwards keeps doing things nobody expects.

Edwards, nearing the end of his first full season in NASCAR Nextel Cup with a mathematical chance to overtake veterans Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson for the championship, won the pole for today’s season-ending Ford 400.

Edwards edged qualifying ace Ryan Newman for his second career pole with a lap of 176.051 mph. Newman, who led all drivers in poles for the fourth straight season, turned a lap of 176.039. The time differential between the two was 0.002-seconds.

“It’s a great way to start the weekend,” said Edwards, who trails leader Stewart by 87 points and is 35 behind Johnson for the runner-up spot.

Stewart, the 2002 champion, qualified 20th and simply needs to finish ninth or better to close out his pursuers, no matter what they do.

Johnson, the runner-up each of the past two years, qualified 32nd on Saturday. A year ago, he was worse off, starting from the rear of the 43-car field after qualifying so slowly he had to use a provisional. But Johnson was able to move through the field and finish second, losing the title to Kurt Busch by just eight points.

“We feel like we have a good race car,” Johnson said. “Our chances are good.”

The only other driver with even a mathematical shot at the 2005 title is Greg Biffle, who qualified seventh. Biffle, the winner of last year’s race, trails Stewart by 102 points.


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