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Roush teammates lock up front row for Daytona 500

by Pete McCole
Sunday, February 19, 2012

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Jack Roush, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and the No. 99 Fastenal and No. 16 3M Teams after Daytona 500 Pole Sweep

Carl Edwards scored his first career Daytona 500 pole while Greg Biffle secured the second position to give Roush-Fenway Racing a sweep of the front row in Sunday’s qualifying session for next Sunday’s 54th running of the Daytona 500.

Edwards was the fifth driver to take to the 2.5-mile track for what would be his eighth Daytona 500 start. His lap of 194.738 mph shot him past Casey Mears for the provisional pole, then sat back and watched as no one was able to pull a faster lap.

Teammate Greg Biffle ran second with a lap of 194.087 mph, but nowhere close to Edwards.

It was the first time Ford has swept the front row at Daytona since 2007 and the first Daytona 500 pole for Roush-Fenway since Biffle took the top spot in 2004.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Edwards. “This is very special.  It’s not a driving accomplishment, this is a team accomplishment, this pole.  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.”

For Edwards, it was an important step to get the season started on the right foot, after the disappointment of losing last year’s championship battle to Tony Stewart in a tiebreaker in the final race of the season. 

Carl Edwards
“It feels nice to pick up right where we left off,” said Edwards. “It seems like every media question and all anybody says is, ‘How great would it have been to have one more point and how did you deal with that this off-season?’  I think this is nice to come here and show everyone that, hey, it isn’t just talk. 

“Everybody at Roush Fenway went back and worked hard and kept their heads down and dug, and I thank…everybody who builds these racecars for not letting the disappointment of not winning that championship slow us down, but, instead, giving us real motivation.”

Gusty, windy conditions on track during Sunday’s sessions had crew chiefs and drivers alike re-thinking their qualifying strategy. With the wind shifting from a headwind to a tailwind, some drivers got the benefit while others didn’t.

“I’m a little disappointed. I hate the wind,” said Biffle. “I guess if you’re out sailing it’s good, but coming down the front I was 200 RPM more on my first lap than I was my fast lap.  That clearly is at least a tenth, tenth-and-a-half, two-tenths of speed.  It was singing down the back, but coming down the front I just got a big gust of wind coming off of four or in the short chute and when I went into turn one I knew I didn’t have it.  I was so slow going into turn one that I’m surprised we’re second. 

“It’s just luck of the draw.  Right now you feel the wind is really calm, so it all depends if you get a gust or not.”

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was the only other driver to break the 194-mile-an-hour mark, going 1940.038 in the no. 88 Chevrolet. Ford pilots Marcos Ambrose (193.999) and Mears (193.844) rounded out the top five.

Martin Truex, Jr. was the fastest Toyota, qualifying seventh, while A.J. Allmendinger led the Dodge’s with an 18th-place effort.

Danica Patrick, looking to become only the third female drivers to start a Daytona 500, qualified 29, but a point-swap with Tommy Baldwin Racing assures her a starting spot in the field.

“It felt better than it did in practice, so I thought surely this is a good sign,” said Patrick. “But as a driver, you just try and go through the gears smooth and be smooth on the track. And beyond that, there’s really not a lot more we can do.

“This morning I watched some of the videos from some of the other drivers out there that we get provided as a team, and I was looking at their lines and that was about it. I turned down onto the banking a little bit quicker because of watching the videos than I did in practice.”

Only the top two positions were locked in during Sunday’s qualifying, with the rest of the Daytona 500 field to be set by the finishing order of Thursday’s twin 150-mile Gatorade Duel races.

Teams that finished in the top 35 in points in 2011 are guaranteed a starting spot in the race, with the top three qualifiers from Sunday who are outside the top-35 in points also assured a starting spot. The final four spots in the field will be up for grabs in the Gatorade Duel races.

Defending Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne made the field thanks to his qualifying effort, along with Tony Raines and David Stremme. 1996 Sprint Cup Champion Terry Labonte is also locked into the field with a Past Champions Provisional.

That puts six drivers in the hunt for the four remaining spots in the Great American Race, among those is two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip and 1988 Sprint Cup Champion Bill Elliott.

Clint Bowyer’s no. 15 Toyota failed post-qualifying inspection and him time was disallowed, however with his team in the top-35 in points he is locked into the field for the race.

Qualifying Results

POS CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR SPEED TIME BEHIND
1 99 Carl Edwards Ford Fastenal 194.738 46.216 Leader
2 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 194.087 46.371 -0.155
3 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Diet Mountain Dew / National Guard 194.028 46.385 -0.169
4 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Stanley 193.999 46.392 -0.176
5 13 Casey Mears Ford GEICO 193.844 46.429 -0.213
6 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger 193.803 46.439 -0.223
7 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 193.665 46.472 -0.256
8 6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford Ford EcoBoost 193.665 46.472 -0.256
9 21 Trevor Bayne Ford Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center 193.615 46.484 -0.268
10 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Mobil 1 193.607 46.486 -0.270
11 55 Mark Martin Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 193.503 46.511 -0.295
12 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 193.449 46.524 -0.308
13 43 Aric Almirola Ford Smithfield "Helping Hungry Homes" 193.382 46.540 -0.324
14 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Peak / Menards 193.374 46.542 -0.326
15 34 David Ragan Ford Scorpion Truck Bed Liners 193.249 46.572 -0.356
16 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Best Buy 193.245 46.573 -0.357
17 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet U.S. Army / Quicken Loans 193.224 46.578 -0.362
18 22 A.J. Allmendinger Dodge Shell / Pennzoil 193.121 46.603 -0.387
19 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 192.992 46.634 -0.418
20 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Budweiser 192.914 46.653 -0.437
21 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 192.868 46.664 -0.448
22 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 5-hour Energy 192.843 46.670 -0.454
23 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 192.777 46.686 -0.470
24 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 192.600 46.729 -0.513
25 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet Farmers Insurance 192.583 46.733 -0.517
26 26 Tony Raines Ford Front Row Motorsports 192.534 46.745 -0.529
27 30 David Stremme Toyota Inception Motorsports 191.963 46.884 -0.668
28 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's Brown 191.873 46.906 -0.690
29 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats 191.840 46.914 -0.698
30 10 Danica Patrick Chevrolet GoDaddy.com 191.738 46.939 -0.723
31 109 Kenny Wallace Toyota American Ethanol 191.567 46.981 -0.765
32 32 Terry Labonte Ford C&J Energy 191.522 46.992 -0.776
33 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet Ollie's Bargain Outlet 191.506 46.996 -0.780
34 51 Kurt Busch Chevrolet HendrickCars.com 191.363 47.031 -0.815
35 33 Elliott Sadler Chevrolet General Mills / Kroger 191.270 47.054 -0.838
36 140 Michael Waltrip Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 191.180 47.076 -0.860
37 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota AMFMEnergy.com / Pellet & Wood Stoves 191.160 47.081 -0.865
38 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express 191.127 47.089 -0.873
39 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row / CSX "Play it Safe" 191.062 47.105 -0.889
40 98 Michael McDowell Ford K-Love / Curb Records 190.990 47.123 -0.907
41 83 Landon Cassill Toyota Burger King 190.605 47.218 -1.002
42 38 David Gilliland Ford MHP Power Pak Pudding 190.046 47.357 -1.141
43 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Kroger 190.022 47.363 -1.147
44 97 Bill Elliott Toyota AMFMEnergy.com / Pellet & Wood Stoves 189.950 47.381 -1.165
45 37 Mike Wallace Ford Poynt.com 189.853 47.405 -1.189
46 93 David Reutimann Toyota Burger King 189.235 47.560 -1.344
47 23 Robert Richardson Jr. Toyota North Texas Pipe 188.438 47.761 -1.545
48 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Mapei / Menards / Speed Energy 188.229 47.814 -1.598
49 249 J.J. Yeley Toyota America Israel Racing 187.954 47.884 -1.668

+ Set by Owner Points
* Denotes Rookie

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