SONOMA -- Carl Edwards thought he would have a relatively stressless qualifying run Saturday for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.
His crew chief had other ideas.
Jimmy Fennig decided to tape up the car's air ducts for an aerodynamic edge, but that meant the car had less cooling air and limited Edwards to one lap.
"The qualifying format was supposed to be easier on the drivers because we were supposed to get a couple of laps," Edwards said. "But my crew chief taped the grille off and said that we'd get just one lap."
The strategy worked. Edwards put up a 94.779 mph lap that was good enough for third on the grid for Sunday's race.
Edwards was only 19th fastest in Friday's first qualifying session, which set the order for Saturday's qualifying groups. After Edwards posted his lap, the best of the day to that point, he had to watch 15 faster drivers take a shot at his speed.
Only pole winner Jamie McMurray and Marcos Ambrose were able to top him.
"It's always stressful to put up the fastest qualifying lap, then watch the rest of the guys because you obviously can't affect what you've already done."
Third on the grid will be the best starting position Edwards has had at Sonoma. Over the years, qualifying here had not been his strong suit.
"I've messed up qualifying a lot of different ways, but this is probably the best lap I've ever had here, so I'm pretty proud of that," Edwards said.
Contact Darryl Matsuda at 408-920-5215. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/DarrylMatsuda.