Carl Edwards happy with his debut for Joe Gibbs Racing

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Finishing third in Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited was the first step in what Carl Edwards hopes leads to several wins and a Sprint Cup championship in his first season with Joe Gibbs Racing.

“I’m glad Matt (Kenseth) won that race, but, man, I could taste it there,” Edwards said. “That was a lot of fun, a cool event. The car is one piece. I learned a bunch, so that will be great for the 500.”

Driving the No. 19 JGR Toyota Camry, Edwards got a brief taste of the lead, pacing the field for just one lap (Lap 69) of the 75-lap race around Daytona International Speedway.

Edwards, who boldly predicted during the offseason that he plans on winning 10 races and the championship in 2015, was happy with his first start with his new team, even if it was a non-points paying race.

“Yeah, that was a good day,” Edwards said. “I got to do a little bit of driving down there in turn one. That worked out well.

“And then to be a very small part of what Matt did there for the win – even though we raced, we didn’t really give each other much there at the end. But there for a little while we tried to work together very well and that was fun. I think we’re off to a great start.”

Kenseth’s win and his Edwards’ third-place finish has Edwards optimistic going into Sunday’s qualifying for the Daytona 500, as well as the Feb. 22 race.

Including Kyle Busch, who finished eighth, JGR wound up with three drivers in the top eight in Saturday’s race. Denny Hamlin was involved in a wreck and finished 19th.

“I think all of our JGR Toyotas are good for next week,” Edwards said. “We’ve got a very good car. If we don’t crash that thing or something (Sunday), I think we’re going to have a good race (in the 500).”

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