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NASCAR At Michigan: Carl Edwards Second Best In Qualifying For Sunday's Cup Race

Carl Edwards, who desperately needs a win in one of the final four regular-season races to stay in the hunt for a spot in the Chase for the Cup Championship series, will be in the No. 2 spot on the NASCAR Sprint Cup starting grid at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday. This will be the fourth time in the 2012 season that Edwards and the No. 99 Roush-Fenway Ford have started a race in NASCAR's highest racing series in No. 2 position.

The three other times (at Richmond, Pocono and Indianapolis) Edwards started second this season he finished outside of the top 10. He earned the pole for the season-opening race at Daytona, but ended the day in eighth place.

Veteran NASCAR driver Mark Martin, who is racing part time this season for Michael Waltrip Racing, will be on the poll. The 53-year-old Martin has been racing in NASCAR for longer than many of the drivers he will be competing against on Sunday have been alive. The stars were almost perfectly aligned for Martin in Friday's qualifying session for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400. He drives the No. 55 Toyota Camry for Waltrip, and this is his 55th time winning the pole position, just two years less than his age.

Edwards says he doesn't mind running second to one of the NASCAR drivers he looked up to and aspired to be like as a young boy. "He (Martin) is an inspiration to me as to how you can do for such a long period," Edwards said after Friday's qualifying session. "I had Mark Martin toys as a little kid, and here he is.

"There are generations of people who have all had little Mark Martin toys, and who knows, my kids someday might be racing against the guy, and they will probably be just as frustrated," he added with a chuckle.

Edwards' second-place starting position on Sunday is the best starting spot he has had at Michigan in 17 races at the two-mile track. And it is much better than 42nd, which is where he started in the earlier race at this venue this year.

Martin has now won the pole at 20 different Sprint Cup Series tracks, but it is his first at Michigan International Speedway.

Martin's teammate at Michael Waltrip Racing, Clint Bowyer, a native of Emporia, Kan., will start from 12th in the Pure Michigan 400 on Sunday. Bowyer is currently seventh in the points standings and, as of today, would be one of the top 10 automatic qualifiers for the 10-race Chase for the Cup to determine the 2012 Sprint Cup champion.

Follow NASCAR and the Sprint Cup Series all season long, including news and analysis on local drivers Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer, at SB Nation Kansas City.