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Carl Edwards leads Roush Fenway sweep of Daytona 500 front row

Posted by Michael Vega, Globe Staff  February 19, 2012 04:11 PM

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Color the front row of the 54th Daytona 500 green. Roush Fenway Racing green, that is.

Carl Edwards, twice a runner-up to rookie driver Trevor Bayne in the season-opening Daytona 500 and to Tony Stewart in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship in the season-ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, delivered a strong message to his NASCAR competitors he was prepared to be a strong contender for both accolades this season when he piloted his No. 99 Ford to his first career Daytona 500 pole victory with a fast-lap of 194.738 miles per hour.

It was the fastest qualifying speed at Daytona since Jeff Gordon went 195.067 m.p.h. to capture the pole in 1999.

"It's an amazing deal and I can't thank Jack Roush enough for all the work he's put into this,'' Edwards said. "It's amazing to think that we're going to be working on the fastest car at Daytona and that we'll be preparing it for the biggest race of the season, I'm glad I'm driving it.''

Edwards was joined on the front row by Roush Fenway teammate Greg Biffle, who posted the second-fastest pole qualifying lap of 194.087 m.p.h. after topping the speed chart in both Sprint Cup practice sessions Saturday afternoon at Daytona.

It marked the first time since 2007 Ford Racing teammates qualified for the front row since Robert Yates Racing teammates David Gilliland (pole) and Ricky Rudd did so. RYR teammates Dale Jarrett (pole) and Rudd also pulled the front sweep for Ford in 2000.

Edwards and Biffle cemented their starting positions on the front row of the 43-car field. Positions No. 3-through-35 for the Daytona will be determined in Thursday's Gatorade Duels, a pair of 150-mile qualifying heats. The next three positions will go to the top three non-exempt qualifiers on speed with the last spot going to a past champion's provisional

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