After two long months, the Daytona 500 is finally here. While most fans are waiting to see where their favorite driver will line up come race day, Carl Edwards fans are celebrating their driver's pole-winning run during qualifying last Sunday.
But it may be a little early to celebrate Edwards as the 2012 Daytona 500 champion because he grabbed the pole. Here are some reasons why the pole doesn't mean much when cars drive onto the most popular track of the circuit on Sunday.
Even with the big pack, drivers get shuffled back no matter where they are.
Being on the pole may be an advantage at the start of the race, but, with all the field movement, it doesn’t keep you from slipping to the back of the pack if you make a wrong move.
Drivers can literally lead a lap and by the next circuit be back in the 20th spot.
Not since 2005 has a driver won the pole in qualifying for the Sprint Cup series and gone on to win the race. The last person to achieve the feat was champion Tony Stewart in the July 2005 race.
Side note: Qualifying was rained out in July 2010 and July 2009 when Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart pulled off the pole/race win doubles.
In the last six runnings of Cup races at Daytona, the pole sitter has finished 24th (Dale Earnhardt Jr, February 2011), 33rd (Mark Martin July 2011), 12th (Mark Martin February 2010), first (Kevin Harvick got the pole based on points standings in July 2010), 11th (Martin Truex Jr, February 2009) and first (Tony Stewart got the pole based on point standings in July 2009).
No matter where you race on the track, you can still get caught up in a wreck (unless you have a big lead on the field).
There really is no safe place on the track and even small damage to your car can ruin your chances at a win. Granted, this reason goes for any spot on the track, but just because you start first on the track doesn’t mean you are safe.
Daytona is literally a crapshoot track. Anyone can, and does, win.
Trevor Bayne won the 500 from the 32 spot last year, while Mark Martin won the Coke Zero 400 in July from the fifth spot. Mark Martin’s starting position is the closest anyone has been to the front (in regular qualifying) to pull off a win since Tony Stewart in 2006.
Just because you lead the first lap doesn’t mean you’ll be even close to leading the last lap.
The Pole may be a cool award to have for your wall, but it doesn't allow you any real breathing room when you are in the race.