Edwards optimistic despite starting in rear

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 05:  Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Arris Toyota, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 5, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV – MARCH 05: Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Arris Toyota, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 5, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS –After slamming into the outside wall during the second round of qualifying for Sunday’s Kobalt 400, Carl Edwards preferred to look on the bright side, even though he’ll drop the rear for the start of the race in a backup car.

“In a way, starting the race from the rear is kind of fun,” Edwards said. “Other than the fact that it’s harder, it’s kind of a neat challenge. I’ve done it a bunch in my career. I think, statistically, when we start in the rear we do pretty well. We’ll just go for it.”

On Saturday morning, Edwards found out he had a car to justify his optimism. Driving the backup No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, he topped the speed chart at 191.564 mph. Still, driving from 39th to the front of the field won’t be easy.

“This will be another test for our guys,” Edwards said. “They are good dealing with adversity, so it should be good.”

In warmer temperatures on Saturday afternoon, Edwards was second fastest in Happy Hour at 188.851 mph.

SHORT STROKES

After brushing the wall in the first round of Friday’s time trials, Jamie McMurray went to a backup car and will join Carl Edwards at the rear of the field for the start of Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at LVMS…

After qualifying 20th and running 26th in Saturday’s first practice, Dale Earnhardt Jr. finally made headway in Happy Hour, posting the seventh-fastest lap of the session. Earnhardt is trying to build on last week’s runner-up finish at Atlanta…

Matt Kenseth led final practice with a lap at 189.460 mph in a tightly-bunched field. Pole winner Kurt Busch (188.706 mph) was third on the speed chart, and Jimmie Johnson, last week’s Atlanta winner, was sixth at 188.344 mph)…

Thad Moffitt, grandson of seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Richard Petty, will make his limited late model stock car debut on Sunday at Caraway Speedway. The 15-year-old son of Richard Petty Motorsports CEO Brian Moffitt and Rebecca Petty-Moffitt will drive the No. 46 Empire Racing Group Ford Mustang in his maiden run.

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