MADISON, Ill. — Carl Edwards is unapologetic. He sees no reason why he shouldn't compete for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and the sport's second-tier title at the same time.
NASCAR has considered changes to the Nationwide Series that could affect the participation of Cup drivers, who routinely dip down to take victories against smaller teams and less-experienced drivers.
Penske driver Justin Allgaier is the only Nationwide regular to win a race in the series this season, at Bristol in March. Every other event has been won by a Cup regular.
Edwards, a Columbia native, is 10th in the Sprint Cup standings and second in the Nationwide points behind Brad Keselowski, the driver he tangled with in the final lap of last week's Dodge Dealers 250 before winning.
Edwards said he began running Nationwide races when he was driving in the truck series, and now considers himself a Nationwide driver going for sponsorship deals in the Cup series.
"I hope NASCAR recognizes that all of us are racers, and no matter where you come from, this is its own series," Edwards said.
Edwards agrees with a suggestion that Cup drivers' practice time be limited on tracks used by both series. He said around a half-hour would be fair.
"Hopefully I can still race for a championship," he said, "because that's what I want to do next year."
Edwards has plenty of company.
Sprint Cup leader Kevin Harvick ran in both ends of a doubleheader last weekend after the truck race was postponed by a power failure. He easily won the 250-mile truck race, leading for all but 17 of the 160 laps, and was in contention in the Nationwide race before scraping the wall late.
"He had a little bit more time, money and experience in this series. All of the above," said Keselowski, who came up in the Nationwide ranks and is in his first year of a full-time Sprint Cup ride.
Keselowski also drove a doubleheader. He finished second in the truck race and appeared headed for victory in the Nationwide race before Edwards knocked him out of control and into the wall in a wreck that eventually involved 10 cars.
There was no looking back after Edwards prevailed at what he considers his home track.
"I hate to see stuff torn up," he said. "But we came here to win."
There are 16 races remaining in the Nationwide series, and Edwards is the defending champion in four of them, including the Kroger 200 at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis this weekend. Keselowski has three wins in the series and is defending champion at four remaining stops and Kyle Busch is defending champion at three races.
Unfair or not, some younger drivers don't mind.
Rookie Brian Scott, who finished sixth in the Nationwide race last week, appreciated getting schooled by Harvick and Keselowski. Earlier this year, he recalled a race where "all the Cup guys just blew by me and taught me a lesson," and last week he gained in the late going.
"I'm glad the Cup guys come down and race with us, because they've sure taught me a lot," Scott said. "I think it's starting to pay off a lot now."