Harvick looks to make history, wihle Edwards has a slow start
If Harvick wins the Feb. 24 Daytona 500, he would become the first driver to sweep the three key NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events: The Sprint Unlimited, a Budweiser Duel qualifying race and the 500.
Of all the drivers who have been dominant through the years during the season-opening events, no one has won all three in the same year. Thirteen have won the Unlimited, a non-points race for the previous season’s pole winners, and one of the two qualifying races without winning the 500.
Harvick is a former Daytona 500 champion, having won the race in 2007.
“We’ve been fortunate the first two races,” Harvick said after edging Greg Biffle by 0.165 second for the win in Thursday’s opening 60-lap qualifier. “We’ve just got to keep a level head … not get too high over what we’ve done and just do the same things that we’ve done. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.
“I think we definitely have the car and team to be in contention to do that.”
• When Denny Hamlin’s car hooked Carl Edwards, setting off a four-car incident at DIS, Trevor Bayne had nowhere to go.
The 2011 Daytona 500 winner led twice for 37 laps, but an issue coming to pit road cost him track position. As a result, he was directly behind Edwards when the Roush Fenway Racing driver turned hard into the outside wall.
“We led for a long time there and it was easy,” Bayne said, “just train racing it seemed like. There at the end we had to make a comeback because I accidentally slid the tires coming into pit road and we had to pit for four (tires). We finally got linked up and were catching the lead pack.”
Team officials said the primary car was the one tested here in January. “The (primary) had the better (wind tunnel) numbers,” said co-owner Len Wood, “but the backup was close. We should be OK.”
• The car count continues to rise for Edwards, who saw his fourth car damaged since testing began here in January.
“This is the worst Speedweeks start I have ever had,” Edwards said. “I don’t think I have crashed this many race cars in two years. It has been expensive for (team co-owner) Jack (Roush).”
Edwards, who was involved in a multicar incident at Daytona in January during Preseason Thunder, was swept up in a crash during practice for last weekend’s The Sprint Unlimited, then suffered damage to his No. 99 Ford on Wednesday after contact with Ryan Newman.
The incident Thursday with Hamlin left Edwards 22nd in the 23-car field.
“I don’t know exactly how come Denny got sideways there,” Edwards said. “If you look at the replay he was just out there on my right rear and got sideways and hit the right rear of the car. I am sure it was as much a surprise to him as anyone.”
• When Scott Speed and the Leavine Family Racing team crossed the finish line 16th in the opening qualifying race, it seemed as if their hopes of making the field for the Daytona 500 -- their first together -- weren’t going to be realized.
But when Martin Truex Jr. was dropped to 19th, the final spot on the leadlap, for a safety infraction, it pushed Speed up one position, to 15th, and assured the team of a starting spot for Sunday’s race.
A brake issue stymied the LFR team during its pit stop, and after Speed slid through his team’s pit box, he had to make a second top to get four new tires.
“We just run real small brakes here to get every ounce (of weight) out of the car you can,” said crew chief Wally Rogers. “He was just doing all he could to try and get us in. Luckily a caution came out and we bounced back.”
Truex was penalized when one of the side windows blew out of his No. 56 Toyota with approximately two laps remaining. Edwards was penalized for a similar infraction during in The Sprint Unlimited.
• Josh Wise (Front Row Motorsports) will make his first Daytona 500 start, thanks to a 16th-place finish in the day’s second qualifying race.
“I had to play a pretty safe race there,” Wise said. “It’s a lot of stress. You see how the race gets out of sequence and guys lose the draft. Everyone did a good job on pit road and we did what we had to do.”
Gordon, who will start No. 2 on Sunday, was penalized for speeding while entering pit road during a round of green-flag pit stops at lap 40, while Stenhouse Jr. and Labonte were tagged for exiting too fast.
Gordon, leading at the time of the infraction, rejoined the field 16th after serving a pass-through penalty.
“You want to maximize everything you have out there,” said Gordon, who finished 12th. “Every opportunity. You don't want give up anything on pit road, and we were just a little bit too aggressive with our setting. I ran it spot on where it needs to be.
“They gave us the numbers, it was just a tiny bit over in three segments. It wasn't that we had a problem or anything like that, we just pushed it too hard."
• Only two teams failed to earn starting berths for the 55th running of the Daytona 500. Brian Keselowski (Brian Keselowski Racing) finished 21st in the day’s opening qualifying race while Mike Bliss (Humphrey Smith Racing) placed 22nd in the second qualifier.
• Kyle Busch’s average winning speed of 193.966 mph in the second Duel qualifying race was the second fastest ever for a Duel race at Daytona.
We apologize. We are having technical issues with our comment sections and fan community and it is temporarily unavailable. We are actively working on these issues and hope to have it up and running soon. We are also working on enhancements to provide a better forum for our fans. We appreciate your patience and apologize for the inconvenience.