Homestead, Fla. Carl Edwards got the jump on Jimmie Johnson in Friday's qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Edwards, facing a daunting 141-point deficit heading into Sunday's Ford 400, qualified fourth, trailing only first-time pole winner David Reutimann, rookie Scott Speed and Roush Fenway Racing teammate Matt Kenseth. Johnson, who needs only to finish 36th or better Sunday to wrap up his third straight Cup title, will start a disappointing 30th. It's only the seventh time in 36 races this season that Johnson has started 20th or lower. The good news for Johnson is his worst finish in any of those races was 33rd in the August race at Bristol.
Edwards, who knows his chances of winning the title mainly hinge on Johnson having a parts failure or crashing, shrugged off the qualifying spread.
"We just race as hard as we can," Edwards said. "No matter what happens to Jimmie, we have to run very well to have a chance to win this championship."
Rounding out the top 10 were Kevin Harvick, David Ragan, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, Reed Sorenson and Martin Truex Jr.