Carl Edwards has set the pace for others to follow at this weekend race at Bristol Motor Speedway by showing the field that a sub 15 second lap was achievable.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Setting a blistering pace of 14.989 seconds (128.014 mph), Edwards scores his second pole for the season, which has had him out front for at least one lap at every race so far this year.Ã‚Â However as the temperature was cooler than anticipated and the track has not been “rubbering up” as expected Goodyear make the executive decision to bring new right side tires to the track which has the potential to change the entire race. The tires Goodyear provided for the race failed to “rubber in” the race track, and heavy wear on the outside shoulder of the right-rear tire did not improve during practice.
Edwards acknowledged, however, that a right-side tire change made on the fly by Goodyear has the potential to change the nature of Sunday’s race.
Goodyear is transporting new right-side tires to Bristol to replace the right sides both Cup and Nationwide teams ran during Friday’s practices. Cup drivers, who qualified on the tires that will be replaced, will have one set of new right sides for Saturday’s practice.
“The potential is there to completely turn this field upside-down, figuratively,” Edwards said. “Guys that were struggling [Friday] could be dominant on Sunday. It’s going to be very interesting. At a place like this, the tire is hugely important.”
Greg Biffle, who qualified with a lap time of 15.035 seconds (127.622 mph) and starts on the front row next to teammate Carl Edwards, agreed that the tire change might have been necessary, but he would like to see drivers’ tire management regain a higher level of importance in NASCAR racing.
“The tire change looks necessary, I guess,” Biffle said. “Maybe the Nationwide cars are using a harder tire than we seem to be. I haven’t seen any indication that this tire wouldn’t work for the race, but some guys ran longer than we did [in practice], so that may be part of it.
“Part of our sport is tire management by the driver, and we don’t have that anymore.”
Despite it all Edwards remains optimistic that his early woes at Phoenix, wining the pole but wrecking early, will not effect his season.Ã‚Â He Finished second at Daytona and won his first race 2 weeksÃ‚Â ago in Las Vegas and is up front again with the pole.
“I’m enjoying this,” Edwards said. “I’m having fun. I’m hoping it lasts, and I’m going to keep driving the way I’m driving until we win a championship, or this car won’t go as fast.”
Edwards was the last driver to win here from the pole back in 2008, a feat which has been completed 22 times since NASCAR started racing here.
Biffle seemed unfazed after a rough start to his season.Ã‚Â He has started in the top 19 on the grid for the past 3 races so speed is not an issue.Ã‚Â Bad luck and bad timing have left him far behind his teammate Carl Edwards in points.Ã‚Â Two weeks ago, racing in Las Vegas was particularly frustrating.
“We arguably had one of the fastest cars at Las Vegas,” Biffle said. “I felt like I was as good as Carl [Edwards], maybe a little better than Tony [Stewart] in spots. … And we finished five laps down. That’s hard to do when you’ve got a really, really fast car.”
“We ran out of gas, pitted, got it running again — we would have been fine, but then the caution came out,” Biffle said. “Then we got going again and we got the wave-around, [but] we’re five laps shorter than the field on fuel. I’m passing Matt [Kenseth] for the lucky dog — now we’re gonna be on the lead lap.
“We’ve got to pit because we ran out of gas once and our numbers are saying we’re getting decent mileage, but we pit and Jeff Gordon wrecked on the lap we pitted. So if either one of those wouldn’t have happened, then we wouldn’t have been in that position. There’s nothing we could have really done about it.”
Biffle isn’t overly worried about the way the points have shaken out so far or letting what happened at the last race phase him.
“You just got to do the same thing every week,” Biffle said. “You’ve got to forgot about what happened last week and try to do the best you can and see what it gives you.”