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Last updateWed, 19 Nov 2014 8pm

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An all-Ford front row for Sunday’s Daytona 500

It’s going to be a pair of Fords from Roush Fenway racing on the front row Sunday for the Daytona 500. 

Carl Edwards took the pole with a lap of 194.738 MPH.  Teammate Greg Biffle  was just a tick slower and will start from the outside of the front row.  Sunday will mark the 11th time Edwards has turned in the fastest time in 266 Sprint Cup starts and is his first pole at Daytona.  The last time a Roush Fenway Racing driver sat on the pole for the Daytona 500 was 2004 when Biffle led the charge.  The  front row is locked in for Sunday, the remaining 41 cars will establish their starting positions based on how they finish  in the twin 150 Gatorade races tomorrow Feb. 23.

Pack racing is back at Daytona.  This also means the “Big One” is back.  Unhappy with the two-car drafting which has

become the fastest way around the Speedway the past couple of years, NASCAR mandated extensive modifications to the cooling systems to  prevent the trailing car from tucking up behind the front car and driving off, leaving the rest of the field.

With the new, smaller radiator, if it doesn’t get some fresh air, the trailing car will overheat in just a few laps.  Based on last Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout, the modification has worked like a charm.  No more two-car drafts.  Large packs of cars running inches apart at nearly 200 mph is once again the way to go at Daytona.

 With the large packs running together the Budweiser Shootout became a demolition derby.  Jeff Gordon got the worst of the many banged-up cars, sliding about a thousand feet on the driver’s side before barrel rolling several times and coming to a stop upside down.  Gordon was taken to the infield care center but appeared to be no worse for wear.  He spoke with pit reporters a short time later and praised the changes NASCAR has made for their restrictor plate tracks. 
     
Kyle Busch rallied from two near disasters to win Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout with a dramatic slingshot move past Tony Stewart just a few yards from the finish line.  Starting from the back of the pack in a backup car, Busch won the season opener exhibition race for the first time. His winning margin over Stewart was .013 seconds, the closest  in Shootout history, in a green/white checkered finish that took the race seven laps beyond the scheduled 75 lap distance.
Busch’s win was the first race using electronic fuel injection. Stewart had just taken the lead on lap 74 of the scheduled 75-lap distance when a violent wreck sent Gordon’s Chevrolet barrel rolling through turn four.  Gordon was following Busch on the back stretch and contact between the two cars turned Busch’s car onto the apron.  Busch made a dramatic save for the second time.

“With Gordon behind me,  I don’t know what the deal was there. I’d like to talk to him about it,” Busch said.  “When we came off turn two, he had me sideways, then when we went into three, he turned me sideways again.  He was on the left side of my bumper, not the right.”

In spite of the narrow loss to Kyle Busch, Stewart was in a good mood at the post race interview, saying, “I had fun racing at Daytona again, which I haven’t had for a while. 

“This was a lot better than having to sit there and stare at the back of a spoiler for 500 miles.”

The Race was just eight laps old when contact from David Ragan’s Ford turned Paul Menard’s Chevrolet and started a multi-car pile up that also damaged the cars of  Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Juan Montoya, Michael Waltrip and Jeff Burton.

You may contact Pete Barber at
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