Daytona Cup Testing

Carl Edwards hopes new crew chief spells fast start in Daytona 500

Crew chief had driver win twice during 2012 on superspeedways

jutter@charlotteobserver.comJanuary 10, 2013 

— Carl Edwards has an ace in the hole for the Daytona 500.

After last season, he needs one.

Edwards, who lost the 2011 Sprint Cup Series championship because of a tiebreaker to Tony Stewart, went winless last year.

“I would like to put last year out of my memory and not think about it too much,” Edwards said Thursday during a break in testing at Daytona International Speedway. “Not in the last few years have I been this excited to go racing.

“I think it is probably because my offseason has been a little longer than most. I didn’t go to Las Vegas (for the awards banquet), so I have been ready to go.”

So has his trump card, crew chief Jimmy Fennig.

Matt Kenseth’s departure from Roush Fenway Racing allowed Edwards’ No. 99 team to add Fennig, who had been Kenseth’s crew chief.

Fennig won three races with Kenseth last season, including the Daytona 500 and the fall race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

Fennig, Edwards said, is anxious.

“I know Jimmy wants to come right out of the box with a couple wins and get locked in the Chase, and so do I,” Edwards said. “That is the first thing on our minds, to get a couple wins and get in the Chase.

“It is nice to have the Daytona 500 championship winning crew chief in our corner.”

It certainly can’t hurt.

Edwards hasn’t won in the Cup series since March 6, 2011 at Las Vegas.

“For me, this is going to be a year of hard work and dedication for one purpose – to win races and the championship. I am working on everything I can,” Edwards said.

This week’s three-day test got off to a slow start for Edwards and teammates Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Biffle was the fastest of the three during Thursday afternoon’s session, posting a lap at 191.955 mph. He was 16th-th fastest overall.

Edwards was 28th-fastest at 190.545 mph. Stenhouse was followed in 29th at 190.512. Biffle ran 24 laps, Edwards 21 and Stenhouse 27.

“Our speedway program has been pretty spectacular,” Edwards said. “I know when I go back into the garage I am going to talk with the crew chief that won half the speedway races last year, including the Daytona 500.

“We didn’t get the performance we wanted, but when I take a step back and truly look at it, I think we have a pretty good situation now.

“You never know. We could go out and win 10 races or have trouble.

“I feel like we have stacked the deck in our favor.”

Notes

Danica says no to Indy 500: Danica Patrick said she will not attempt to run the 2013 Indianapolis 500 and will focus on her first full season in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series.

“I am just going to do the Coke 600. The team and I decided to focus on Cup. It’s going to be plenty of work as it is,” she said. “It’s going to be important for me running for the championship full time for the first time to really keep myself focused with the Cup car.”

Patrick said she also was in negotiations with Turner Scott Motorsports to run a limited Nationwide Series schedule this year.

“We are definitely talking to them trying to figure it out and we are definitely working on that, but there has been nothing signed yet,” she said.

Patrick, a former IndyCar Series fan favorite, had stated a desire to run the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on the same day.

Waltrip to run Daytona 500: Michael Waltrip, a two-time Daytona 500 champion, will drive Swan Racing’s No. 30 in the Feb. 24 opener, reuniting him with former crew chief Tony Eury Jr. The race will mark Swan Racing’s series debut.

It will be a one-race deal. .

Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter

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