The 2012 NASCAR Spring Cup Series will begin just as the last one ended—with Carl Edwards in pole position, hoping to claim his first title on the circuit.
Edwards won the pole for next weekend's Daytona 500 during qualifying on Sunday, edging Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle with a lap of 194.738 mph in his No. 99 Ford at Daytona International Speedway.
He came agonizingly close to winning the NSCS in 2011, but was edged out of the title by Tony Stewart in the final race of the season at Homestead.
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The remaining positions will be set on Thursday by way of two 150-mile qualifying races. The field is all but locked up at this point, with spots guaranteed to each of the Top 35 teams from last season. The remaining four are granted to Tony Raines, David Stremme and defending Daytona champ Trevor Bayne (based on qualifying speed), and to Terry Labonte as the ceremonial past NASCAR champion.
All eyes will be on the Stewart-Haas Racing team—namely Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick.
Stewart will look to begin the defense of his 2011 NSCS title on the right wheel...er, foot in Daytona Beach with his first career victory at the "Great American Race."
As for Patrick, the former darling of the IndyCar Series will be making her first-ever appearance at the Daytona 500 as she embarks upon a full slate in stock car racing, away from the treacherous tracks of open-wheel racing.
Patrick will run in 10 Sprint Cup Series races this season, along with the entire Nationwide Series slate, in the No. 10 GoDaddy.com car.