|Matt Kenseth leads the field to the green flag at Daytona.|
Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images
|Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images|
Points: 3rd (-44)
Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth were dancin' partners for the night. Since Kenseth started on pole and Biffle in 5th, they teamed up early.
Kenseth had the dominant car so Biffle settled in and pushed their tandem for much of the evening. Taking the lead himself at Lap 48, Biffle led a total of 35 laps, second to Kenseth for most laps led.
On the final restart with just two laps to go, the duo looked like they were going to make a surge to the checkered flag when suddenly Biffle got sideways when he ran out of room. As the checkered flag waved, so did the yellow for a wreck that collected fifteen cars. Tony Stewart emerged victorious while Biffle limped to a 21st-place finish. Despite all the mayhem, Biffle did gain in the points this week, moving back up to third, 44 behind teammate Kenseth.
"I just turned down in front of the 29. He got a hell of a shove off the front of Junior, I just watched the replay, and just shoved him in that hole. I’m like, ‘It’s impossible that somebody could get into that hole that quick,’ but he got squirted off the bumper of the 88 and shot in there. It was my fault," Biffle said on the last lap wreck. "We had a good car. What happened was the 17 caught the 14 and moved up and there was somebody outside of me and I couldn’t move up. That’s the way it goes."
|Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images|
Points: leader by 25 points
Matt Kenseth is to Daytona like a fish is to water. Ok, maybe not exactly but Kenseth is good at plate races!
Winning the pole (his first of 2012 and first at Daytona) was just the start to what appeared to be a Kenseth-dominated race. Leading the first 41 laps, Kenseth looked unbeatable early on. Teaming up with teammate Greg Biffle, the tandem were the stars of the night. Surrendering the lead to pit, Kenseth asked for no changes to the car as crew chief Jimmy Fennig called for four tires and fuel.
The Lap 125 caution broke up the Kenseth/Biffle dynamic as Biffle was already committed to pit road and assessed a penalty. Kenseth was able to swerve and avoid the commitment cone. On top of that, Kenseth was now mired back in the pack, sitting in 20th on the restart.
Kenseth and Biffle were able to hookup once again and within laps were up to the front challenging for the lead. Escaping multiple wrecks in the closing laps, Kenseth fell short to a late race charge by Tony Stewart, who came from the rear of the field for the win. Leading a race high 89 laps, Kenseth finished his night in third but stretches his points lead as the Chase closes in.
"I’m really disappointed," an evidently frustrated Kenseth said. "We thought we had one of the best cars. I was hoping it was gonna be me or the 16 in victory lane. I don’t know, it’s hard to figure out. The 500 went one way and then we lost Talladega because I didn’t keep Greg with me good enough. And then this race Tony got separated and I got separated from Greg because they pulled him off me. I should have just stayed on his door and stayed with him and let the chips fall where they may, but I didn’t know what else was coming so I slowed up to try to bring Greg with me because he had been so good all night and I was hoping to get a run. Before I got a run Tony got outside of him and then I don’t know what happened because everybody started wrecking."
|Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images|
Points: 11th (-135)
Heading into Daytona 11th in points, Carl Edwards needed a solid finish to keep in the Chase fight. Daytona would be the make or break race for the No. 99 team, a bit of a wildcard race.
Starting in 13th, Edwards quickly made his way to the front but found himself to be the odd man out in the three-car team of Roush Fenway Racing. Throughout the race Edwards worked with anyone within reach, including Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The Lap 125 caution that resulted in the penalty for Biffle was also costly for Edwards. His pit sequence was shuffled and he fell back to 26th on the restart.
Working his way back up front was a difficult task for Edwards, but as the field started wrecking he was able to steer clear of the spinning cars and gain track position. On the final restart, with two laps to go, Edwards was battling up in the top 10 looking to make a move but on the last lap mayhem ensued once again. A multi-car wreck happened just in front of the 99, Edwards got a piece of the damage but was able to cross the finish line in 6th.
"We had a great car and that wreck coming onto pit road, where we had to drive through and start at the back, I just didn’t get back to the front again on that run so that’s what set us back. But we’re very, very fortunate to end up where we did," Edwards said after the race. "We dodged the wrecks and made it out unharmed, so we’ll go to the next one. I think the finishing position will be seventh or better and I would have taken that this morning if somebody would have offered it.”
"This whole type of event is very difficult. It’s great when you’re out front, but any other spot you’re just really trying hard not to wreck and not to try too hard and ruin your day or other people’s day, so it’s a tough race but I’m glad we finished okay."