News & Media


Happy Hour: Edwards isn't taking anything for granted at BMS

August 26, 2011, Dave Rodman, NASCAR.com

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Sets the pace in both practice sessions; teammate Biffle is 21st in Happy Hour

Happy Hour on Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway -- in fact, both practice sessions on the lightning-fast concrete oval -- proved just how wild Saturday's Irwin Tools Night Race might be.

This season's former points leader, Carl Edwards, was the one constant. He ran 73 laps between the two sessions and finished at the top of both time sheets.

Irwin Tools Night Race

Final Practice
Pos.DriverSpeedTime
2.D. Stremme120.33115.946
3.J. Montoya119.97815.993
4.C. Bowyer119.92516.000
5.Keselowski119.89516.004

But Edwards, who was either first or second in the standings for 19 consecutive race weekends, certainly isn't taking anything for granted.

"[My car] looks really good, but I think everyone is so close. It is just going to be a track position race," Edwards said. "With that being said, qualifying will be important and a good pit stall will be huge."

Immediately after practice, Edwards was cautiously optimistic heading into qualifying, then he turned the second-fastest lap behind pole-winner Ryan Newman.

Edwards has two career Cup wins at Bristol and recorded a second-place finish here in the spring. Even with his coveted prime pit stall in hand, he knows reality rests under the lights on Saturday.

"It is really neat to be that fast in practice but we have to go race, still," Edwards said. "And with the speed we have had so far [Friday], it will be a good race."

Being that it's Bristol, Edwards is really looking forward to that.

"It always takes me a few laps in the race, 10-15 laps in, to get comfortable with the pace of it because things are happening so quickly here," Edwards said. "It is a really neat place to race at. It is unbelievable they built this place how they did -- amazing they sat down and designed this place and made it how they did.

"But I am really glad they did. It is really fun to come here."

Sitting 13th in points and in need of a win, Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle's spin during Happy Hour brought out the two practice sessions' only caution. He ended final practice 21st on the speed charts, and qualifying was almost more of the same.

"I got no idea if that's a better indication of what I have than what we saw in Happy Hour," Biffle said after qualifying 14th. "I was a little bit loose [in 1 and 2], that put me up the track and I got back to the gas and drove it in a little easier down here [in Turn 3] and I was on the edge.

"It's been a real loose car and I don't know why. I think [in practice] we figured out right at the end what to do to get a little bit of a balance shift that I think will be good in the long run, and I think that's about all we got."

"It's a very important weekend."

--CLINT BOWYER

Currently 11th in the Cup standings -- and just 24 points behind Tony Stewart -- Clint Bowyer posted the fourth-fastest time in Happy Hour.

"I'm fairly satisfied with our car. So far, it made a lot of gains," Bowyer said after first practice. "I think it's going to be a good weekend. It's a very important weekend. Big three weeks in a row here for us trying to get ourselves in the Chase, a lot going on around that had some decent runs here as of late and give me a lot of confidence going into these next three races that we can get the job done."

After practicing during the daytime, Bowyer wasn't sure how track conditions may change Saturday night. Qualifying 16th probably didn't help.

"Only time will tell. Obviously, things are a lot different," Bowyer said. "You are going to be slipping and sliding around, but the concrete helps out a little bit. It doesn't seem to change as much; it's not that huge drastic change like an Atlanta.

"Here, it's a little bit different; you have to keep that in the back of your mind. You're always guessing in the back of your mind, as you're practicing [Friday] you're like, 'what's this thing going to feel like when its 20 degrees cooler?' It does weigh in on situations. To the extent of, nobody really honestly knows."