On a windy oval and driving a Chevrolet Impala, Danica Patrick did impress on her Daytona debut, but Edwards grabbed pole
Danica Patrick set only the 30th fastest time in qualifying for her first Daytona 500 while Carl Edwards, who lost last year's championship, set the fastest time and will start next Sunday from the pole position for NASCAR's series opener. Strong wind from the Atlantic Ocean blew during qualifying and interfered with cars that went in excess of 190 mph on the 2.5 mile oval. Edwards, in his new Ford Fusion, turned a lap of 194.738 mph which put him on the pole early, as no one could challenge it.
Edwards edged teammate Greg Biffle for the pole by seven-tenths of a second. All of the other drivers will have to fight for grid positions at the Gatorade Duels on Thursday. "This is amazing," Edwards said. "It's a testament to Roush Yates Engines, and the guys who engineered these cars over the winter. These are the best race cars that we've ever had in Daytona." For Edwards it's his first Daytona 500 pole and the 11th pole of his NASCAR career. Danica Patrick, who has a guaranteed starting spot by virtue of an owner points deal between Stewart-Haas Racing and Tommy Baldwin Racing, qualified 30th for her Daytona 500 debut.
Patrick will become the third woman to start at the Daytona 500, joining Janet Guthrie. Patrick's Chevrolet Impala was spewing water before she completed her second lap at an average speed of 191.738 mph, though by and large, she was satisfied with her first Cup qualifying effort. "It felt fine," she said. "It got a little hot on the water at the end, but other than that -- some water blowing out of the car - but everybody did a good job. It's nice to be fast, but anything can happen on Sunday. Any given Sunday, as they call it, right?"