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The smell of fresh burning rubber is oozing from the Daytona Beach speedway which can only mean one thing: NASCAR is back.
Picking up where he left off after finishing second in the Sprint Cup standings last season, Carl Edwards won the Daytona 500 qualifier and will start next week’s pole position in the No. 1 position. Ford teammate Greg Biffle finished second giving Ford his first front-row sweep of the biggest race of the season in five years. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished third while Marcos Ambrose and Casey Mears round out the Top 5.
Edwards ran a 194.738 mph lap to secure the 11th pole of his Sprint Cup career and first at Daytona. It’s a great way to start the season, but the numbers don’t lie, the pole sitter rarely wins a Daytona.
Since 1959, only nine racers have won the pole position and the race itself in the same year. Since 1988, the only two to pull off the feat were Jeff Gordon in 1999 and Dale Jarrett in 2000.
Last year it was Earnhardt Jr. who landed the No. 1 position. He finished 24th. Trevor Bayne finished first after starting 32nd. In 2010, Mark Martin finished 12th after winning the pole position.
I’m not saying that Edwards isn’t thrilled to secure the top spot, but history says his chances of winning are not as great as you’d think. Whether it’s nerves of starting off first in the biggest race of the year, the way the track is constructed or just the fact it’s the first regular season event of the year, pole position has never mattered much at Daytona.
So for fans of drivers who have a pole position lower than you would like, fear not, because it really doesn’t mean a whole lot once the engines are running and the race begins.