Fast lap is big stress-reliever for Carl Edwards

Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Arris Toyota, stands on the grid during qualifying for the 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Arris Toyota, stands on the grid during qualifying for the 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Arris Toyota, stands on the grid during qualifying for the 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—For the first time during Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway, Carl Edwards was able to crack a relieved smile.

Edwards had just run a lap at 202.315 mph in the first round of group knockout qualifying for next Sunday’s Daytona 500 (1 p.m. ET on FOX). Third fastest in time trials — all rounds combined — Edwards earned a guaranteed starting spot in the 57th edition of the Great American Race.

Edwards entered 2015 with a new team, Joe Gibbs racing, but without 2014 owner points that would have given him a provisional slot in the 500, had he failed to advance through time trials or Thursday night’s Budweiser Duel at Daytona (7 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1).

Small wonder it was a happy, relaxed Edwards who took the dais in the Daytona media center after Sunday’s qualifying session.

“We had not really talked about it much publicly,” Edwards said. “There were a lot of meetings and a lot of anxiety over the fact that we could possibly miss the Daytona 500. I think we’ve had four or five meetings trying to come up with a strategy for qualifying.

“To have the third-fastest time of the day — I believe we are locked into the show, which is huge, to say the least. With (sponsor) Arris coming on board in such a huge way — Stanley (Tools) — it was going to be really tough to explain to them if we had trouble in the qualifiers.

“Now we can go out, be aggressive (in the Duels), have fun and try to start up front.”

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.