Carl Edwards wins the pole for the 54th annual Daytona 500.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – With a fast lap of 194.738 mph – the fastest qualifying lap at Daytona in over a decade – Carl Edwards put the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford on the pole for the 54th annual Daytona 500 during Sunday’s Daytona 500 Qualifying Presented by Kroger.
Edwards’ time was the fastest since 1999 when Jeff Gordon took the pole for the Daytona 500 at 195.067 mph and Dale Jarrett took the Coke Zero 400 pole at 194.860 mph.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Edwards said. “This is very special. It’s not a driving accomplishment, this is a team accomplishment. There’s a lot of pride in this for everyone. I’m excited to have all the guys back at the shop this week know they sent the best racecars down to Daytona.”
Next Sunday will mark the third-consecutive year that teammates will lead the 43-car field to the green flag, but the first time that Roush Fenway Racing will command the front row for “The Great American Race”. Edwards will start alongside teammate Greg Biffle.
“It’s a sign of the strength of your team,” Edwards said. “It’s not that we just have one car up there – to have that whole front row says a lot about Roush Fenway Racing and Ford.”
Biffle, who was the last Roush driver to win the pole for the Daytona 500 (2004), wheeled his No.16 3M Ford to the second-fastest lap of 194.087 mph – just .155 seconds slower than Edwards. The entire top 10 posted blistering speeds with just .270 seconds separating them.
“I’d run the Gatorade Duel tonight if I could,” Biffle said. “I can’t wait for the 150s. I can’t wait for practice. I want to get in the car and go. I’m just juiced up.”
Ford had a strong showing, taking four of the top-five positions. This is the first time that Ford has swept the front row since David Gilliland and Ricky Rudd did it in 2007 – which is also the last time Ford claimed the pole in the season opener.
Of the 49 cars that attempted to qualify, 14 were required to qualify on time. Three secured a starting position based on their qualifying speed – defending Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne (193.615), Tony Raines (192.534) and David Stremme (191.963). Also guaranteed a spot is former series champion Terry Labonte.
Today’s qualifying effort not only set the front row for NASCAR’s biggest, richest and most prestigious race, it also determined the line-ups for Thursday’s Gatorade Duel at Daytona. Edwards will lead the first race and Biffle will lead the drivers who qualified in the second race.
Clint Bowyer, who had posted the 22nd-fastest lap, will drop to the back of the field in the second Duel because his car failed to pass inspection.
Speedweeks 2012 resumes at Daytona International Speedway on Wednesday, Feb. 22 with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at noon. Tickets for the 54th annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 26, as well as other Speedweeks 2012 events can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com
or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
If you are unable to attend in person, be sure to tune in to the Daytona 500 on FOX on Sunday, Feb. 26 at 1 p.m. ET.
Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Facebook (www.facebook.com/DaytonaInternationalSpeedway
) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/disupdates
) and fans can also follow NASCAR (@NASCAR) and hashtags #NASCAR and #DAYTONA500.