Carl Edwards has predicted an interesting afternoon of racing at Daytona as the NASCAR Sprint Cup crews prepare for the Gatorade Duel races, which will decide the grid for Sunday's Daytona 500.
After positing the 26th quickest time during the qualifying runs last weekend, Edwards will start the second Duel from 14th on the grid but the 2008 series runner-up vowed to push hard to get to the front of the field and secure the best slot possible for the biggest event on the calendar.
“The Duels are going to be pretty interesting,” he said. “I think if we can make it past the first eight or ten laps without being in a big, wadded wreck, I think it's going to string out a little bit. I think handling is going come into play, pit strategy a little bit, making sure you have a good pit stop if you have a green flag pit stop.
“My strategy is to race as hard as I can, get to the front, and hopefully rely on the handling of the car to be able to keep ourselves out front. I felt like our car the other night in the Bud Shootout handled really well and that's why we were leading that first 25-lap run. But if we're anywhere near the front, I'm going to race hard and try to win so we can start up front, because on Sunday I think it's going to string out, too, and I want to be in the front. So we're racing hard.”
Edwards added that he was hopeful that the 500 on Sunday wouldn't feature the kind of incident that hit the Budweiser Shootout, when a late incident led to a green-white-chequer finish, with a further caution flying on the final lap.
“We have two different possibilities here,” he said. “We could have a race on Sunday that ends with a long green flag run, or we're going to have what we had the other night where maybe twelve laps from the finish or ten laps from the finish, we get a caution and everybody is going be on the same page.
“I'm really hoping for the long green-flag run, where you can battle with two or three guys, instead of just mayhem. The way it feels to me, and I'm not an expert at this, but I'm getting better at these places, is it feels like it's just restraint that keeps us from wrecking. So the closer you get to the end of the race, there's this crescendo where everybody starts going, 'Well, I'm gonna take a little more chance,' and then there's a wreck. There's no way to race as hard as you want without wrecking in those situations. I hope it's not a frustrating race like that that finishes under caution. I want to race to the chequered flag.”