While Carl Edwards wasn’t as happy after the Daytona 500 as race-winning teammate Denny Hamlin, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver certainly had reason to smile.
Hooked from behind by Trevor Bayne when he slowed to avoid the spinning car of Brian Vickers on Lap 56 of 200, Edwards and his No. 19 Toyota bounced off the outside wall with the right side, incurring significant damage to the right front.
But by the end of the race and after some major repairs on the part of his team, Edwards was in the lead pack fighting for the win along with his other three JGR teammates.
He ultimately came home fifth, on a day that could have been disastrous after an early setback.
"My guys just did a great job, a really good job," Edwards told FOXSports.com after Sunday’s season opener. "Pretty neat that they could do that, put that car back together and get us a fifth-place finish. That’s good."
As for the incident that caused him to suffer damage and fall deep in the running order, the veteran driver just shrugged it off.
"Everybody just checked up in front of me and I got hit from behind," he said. "I don’t know exactly what it was that him me from behind, but it’s so hard. Everybody’s trying to slow down and it’s really tough."
Even though Edwards’ patched-up car had the speed to race with the leaders at the end, he was reluctant to make a bold move on the final lap. Instead, he chose to stay in line while teammate Hamlin jumped to the outside, setting up what became the winning pass on teammate Matt Kenseth.
"I wanted to pull out in front of the top line like Denny did, but I just wasn’t sure how fast our car was," Edwards said. "So I stayed tucked in a little longer, and Denny was rewarded for his bravery there."
Edwards called the intense jockeying for position in the final laps "ruthless."
"Everybody’s rooting and gouging just trying to get every little bit," he said. "(Kyle) Larson stuck with me. That meant a lot, so just a good day."