He's starting 2012 out front.
Edwards, who lost the championship last season on a tie-breaker to Tony Stewart, won the pole for the season-opening Daytona 500, beating teammate Greg Biffle for the top starting spot during a windy Sunday qualifying session at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Edwards turned a lap at 194.738 mph - the fastest pole-winning speed since Jeff Gordon's lap of 195.067 mph in 1999. Biffle was second at 194.087 to give Ford and Roush Fenway Racing a sweep of the front row.
Edwards and Biffle were the only two drivers to lock down their starting positions in Daytona's unique qualifying format. The rest of the starting order for next Sunday's race is set through Thursday's twin 150-mile qualifying races.
But only four starting spots are up for grabs.
NASCAR guarantees starting spots to the top 35 teams from last season, three spots go to the fastest drivers in time trials not already locked in and one spot goes to a previous NASCAR champion. The drivers who earned starting spots in qualifying were defending race winner Trevor Bayne, Tony Raines, David Stremme and former NASCAR champion Terry Labonte.
Kyle Busch edges Stewart to win Shootout
The pack is back. And so is the Big One.
Kyle Busch edged Tony Stewart in a thrilling finish to the first race of 2012, using a sling-shot pass Saturday night on the last lap of the exhibition Budweiser Shootout to beat the defending NASCAR champion to the checkered flag.
It gave Busch a victory in a wild race that included two incredible saves by the eventual winner to stay in contention in the 75-lap sprint around Daytona International Speedway.
''I don't know how many times I spun out, but I didn't spin out, you know?'' smiled Busch, who gave Toyota its first Shootout victory.
The event was a preview of next weekend's season-opening Daytona 500, and showed that NASCAR has successfully broken up the two-car tandem racing that dominated restrictor-plate racing last year. Fans were overwhelmingly opposed to that style of racing - NASCAR said earlier this month surveys showed over 80 percent of those polled hated the tandem - and the sanctioning body worked hard through the offseason to develop a rules package that would separate the cars.
''The pack racing is back, and that gives the drivers a little more control and adds a lot of excitement for the fans - and that's the biggest thing: the fans wanted pack racing back and NASCAR listened and delivered,'' Clint Bowyer said.