Daytona Beach, Fla. (February 16, 2013) – Carl Edwards took the pole by fan vote in this year’s Sprint Unlimited season opener, but was forced to start in the back after wrecking in practice and going to a backup car. As the first segment drew on, Edwards quickly moved to sixth-place but after a few setbacks, NASCAR waved the black flag due to a window malfunction on the No. 99 resulting in a 12th place finish.
The Sprint Unlimited attracted fans to vote on the starting lineup, segment lengths and pit stops. The winning vote was to set the field based on when each driver won their qualifying 2012 season pole starting position. Having captured the pole in the previous Daytona 500, Edwards was slated to once again start from the pole at Daytona. Unfortunately Edwards had gotten caught up in wreck during practice the previous day, forcing the team to pull out the backup car and forfeit their pole position.
As expected in Daytona, unpredictability and drama ensued when a seven-car pileup unleashed on lap 15, narrowing the field of contestants down to 12. Edwards hovered between sixth and fourth for much of the first segment after the restart, but a problem with the jack on the left side during the first pit stop sent him back to 12th going into the second segment.
While Edwards battled for much of the second segment between 12th and eighth, a risky maneuver found him with no drafting assistance, relegating him to the back of the field. With only 25 laps in the second segment Edwards didn’t have time to make up the lost track position, leaving him 11th going into the final 20-lap segment.
The No. 99 Fastenal Ford battled hard for a climatic ending to the Sprint Unlimited. Edwards was 11th at the green flag to the third and final segment and took a leap to fifth by the 62nd lap. The field remained in single file for much of the last 13 laps when Kenseth and Logano made a mad dash for the front. As the others raced for the win, Edwards experienced a rare window latch malfunction. The error caused NASCAR to black flag the No. 99, ultimately resulting in a 12th place finish.
“We didn’t wreck the car which is big,” said Edwards. “We dodged that first wreck. We had a couple things that were bugs and it was good to work them out in this race. We had a problem with the jack on the left side on our pit stop and we had the right side window come out of the car. We learned a little bit and there was some strategy going on out there tonight and I learned a little for the 500. It was a good day.”
Qualifying on Sunday, February 17th, will determine the starting row for the 500, and set the fields for the Duels on Thursday, February 21st. The starting lineup for the Daytona 500 will be determined by the results of the Duels. Tune into FOX at 2pm on Thursday, February 21st to catch all the racing action from Daytona.