Greg Biffle and Daytona 500 polesitter Carl Edwards - NASCAR photoEnlarge Photo
Edwards, runner-up in last year's points chase, helped Roush Fenway Racing gain first and second positions in the 43-car field on a sunny, windy afternoon.
After single car qualifying, only the top two are set for position; the balance race on Thursday in twin Gatorade Duels.
In earning Ford's first pole position at the Daytona 500 since 2007 Edwards was elated. "It's an amazing feeling. I just cannot thank Jack Roush enough for all the work that he's put in and (engine builder) Doug Yates. Those guys have done an unbelievable job of working through the transition to EFI (electronic fuel injection) and it's just amazing to know for the next week that Bob (Osborne, crew chief) and all of us are gonna be working on the fastest racecar here at Daytona and preparing it for the biggest race of the season."
This is Edwards' second consecutive pole--he won pole position at the season-closing race on Homestead-Miami Speedway's 1.5-mile oval last November. "It feels nice to pick up right where we left off. Everybody at Roush Fenway went back and worked hard and kept their heads down and dug. These are the best racecars we've had in a long time," he said.
Edwards, like most everyone else, expects the 500 to end in at least one green-white-checker situation--and have pack racing. "I think you have to expect that kind of finish. We're calculating fuel based on going through that and I think everybody knows that's very likely to happen. As a driver, in your mind you have to plan how aggressive you're gonna be and get a plan for that too, so yeah, we take that into consideration."
Despite qualifying second, Edwards' teammate Greg Biffle was "a little disappointed. I hate the wind. I guess if you're sailing it's good, but coming down the front (straightaway) I was 200 rpm more on my first lap than I was on my fast lap. That's clearly at least a tenth, tenth and a half, two-tenths of speed," Biffle said. "It was singing down the back but coming down the front I just got a big gust of wind coming off four or in the short chute, and when I went into turn one I knew I didn't have it."
Dale Earnhardt Jr broke the Ford domination in the top five by taking third in his No. 88 Chevrolet. He used the wind to his advantage, Earnhardt said. "Right now I am pretty pleased because we weren't able to find that speed yesterday." His team made changes to improve the car's speed from practice on Saturday. "It didn't have this kind of speed; I'm sure we got a little help from the wind but I have to give my guys credit for giving us a good opportunity. The machine they put out there today--a lot of hard work goes into coming down here," he said.
The Ford Fusion racecars of Marcos Ambrose and Casey Mears were fourth and fifth, followed by Jeff Gordon in the No. 24 Chevy, obviously unharmed from his wild ride in the Budweiser Shootout Saturday night. Martin Truex Jr is the first Toyota in the field in 7th, Ricky Stenhouse Jr earned eighth, while 2011 Daytona 500 winner (and birthday boy) Trevor Bayne is ninth and reigning Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart lies tenth.
Obviously, none of this makes any difference as everyone needs to race for position on Thursday in the two Gatorade Duel 150-mile races. There are differing agendas throughout the garages of 49 racers--some want to simply make the field while others are trying to advance their fortunes in the inevitable pursuit of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
The track is closed for competition on Monday and Tuesday followed by a pair of practice sessions on Wednesday. Racing on Thursday begins at 2PM for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.