Carl Edwards blistered Turns 3 and 4 at the end of a hair-raising qualifying lap that was fast enough to win the pole for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
The 40th of 43 drivers to make a qualifying attempt in Friday's time trials at the 1.5-mile track, Edwards covered the distance in 27.535 seconds (196.114 mph) to edge fellow Ford driver Brad Keselowski (196.100 mph) for the top starting spot in the eighth Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race by .002 seconds.
Jimmie Johnson (195.943 mph) qualified third, three positions ahead of Matt Kenseth (195.518 mph), who is tied with Johnson for the top spot in the series standings with three Chase races left. Third-place Jeff Gordon, who trails the leaders by 27 points, earned the eighth starting spot, one position behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Paul Menard (195.837 mph) qualified fourth, .008 seconds faster than fifth-place starter Kyle Busch (195.780 mph), who is fifth in the Chase standings, 36 points behind Kenseth and Johnson.
The Coors Light pole award was Edwards' first at Texas, his second of the season and the 13th of his career. Edwards is a three-time winner at TMS, tops in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
"The late draw saved us there," said Edwards, whose No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford slipped off Turn 2 on the money lap. "That wiggle ... the car got loose off of [Turn] 2, and I definitely saw our pole hopes fade right there. I did not think it was going to happen.
"But then it went through [Turns] 3 and 4 really, really well. I don't know that anybody could have gone through there much better. That car was very fast through there. And the engine ran so well ... Overall, I believe the car is a lot better than that lap even."
Johnson's hopes for a pole ended with a light brush with the wall off Turn 4, as all three of the top qualifiers navigated the track on the knife edge of near disaster.
"I hate to admit it, but at one point, I think I had my eyes shut, because I knew there was going to be contact -- I just didn't know how much," Johnson said. "I just grazed the wall and scratched the sticker on the bumper cover and the taillight on the back of the car.
"Watching Brad's lap, he was in the throttle early, as well, and lost some time off of [Turn] 4. When the 99 came through, his moment was in [Turns] 1 and 2, but he had a really good 3 and 4 and was able to nip us both there."
For his part, Keselowski felt he left some speed on the race track.
"We had a really decent lap, for sure, but I thought I left a little bit out there," Keselowski said. "I know we're starting up front, but I also know we left a little out there, so I'm a little disappointed in myself."
AAA Texas 500 starting lineup
1. (99) Carl Edwards, Ford, 196.114 mph.
2. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 196.100 mph.
3. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 195.943 mph.
4. (27) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 195.837 mph.
5. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 195.780 mph.
6. (20) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 195.518 mph.
7. (88) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 195.312 mph.
8. (24) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 195.171 mph.
9. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 195.129 mph.
10. (9) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 195.030 mph.
11. (5) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 194.665 mph.
12. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 194.517 mph.
13. (39) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 194.384 mph.
14. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 194.377 mph.
15. (56) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 194.161 mph.
16. (42) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 193.805 mph.
17. (43) Aric Almirola, Ford, 193.659 mph.
18. (16) Greg Biffle, Ford, 193.618 mph.
19. (29) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 193.604 mph.
20. (31) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, 193.403 mph.
21. (33) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 193.334 mph.
22. (47) Bobby Labonte, Toyota, 193.126 mph.
23. (30) Parker Kligerman, Toyota, 193.043 mph.
24. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 192.933 mph.
25. (55) Elliott Sadler, Toyota, 192.905 mph.
26. (15) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 192.802 mph.
27. (13) Casey Mears, Ford, 192.651 mph.
28. (38) David Gilliland, Ford, 192.048 mph.
29. (34) David Ragan, Ford, 191.891 mph.
30. (10) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 191.829 mph.
31. (78) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 191.421 mph.
32. (21) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 191.347 mph.
33. (14) Mark Martin, Chevrolet, 190.530 mph.
34. (35) Josh Wise, Ford, 189.880 mph.
35. (98) Michael McDowell, Ford, 189.321 mph.
36. (51) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 189.235 mph.
37. (40) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, Owner Points
38. (93) Travis Kvapil, Toyota, Owner Points
39. (83) David Reutimann, Toyota, Owner Points
40. (32) Timmy Hill, Ford, Owner Points
41. (87) Joe Nemechek, Toyota, Owner Points
42. (7) Dave Blaney, Chevrolet, Owner Points
43. (36) JJ Yeley, Chevrolet, Owner Points