Friday night, Columbia native Carl Edwards was in a place that has become familiar to him — victory lane.
Edwards, 23, won the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Federated Auto Parts 200 at Nashville Superspeedway, his second straight win and third in five races.
Edwards remains at the top of the NCTS rookie standings with 2,057 points. He is ninth overall.
“It almost seems too good to be true,” Edwards said. “We struggled so much early in the year. It’s really a turn of events for us.”
Edwards won despite starting from the back of the field. He qualified sixth, but his first motor blew during practice and he had to start from the back after changing engines.
It was nothing new for the ROUSH Racing team. Edwards started from the rear when he won his first NCTS race, the Kentucky 225 on July 12. His teammate, Jon Wood, started from the back when he won the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 on July 5.
“Knowing that Jon and I both had won from the back, it didn’t affect us much,” Edwards said. “The crew and I just concentrated on getting the setup right. We got the truck well balanced and that really made a difference.”
Edwards worked his way into the top 10 by lap 17 and passed Wood to take the lead on lap 60. He took the lead for good on lap 103.
Edwards gave several reasons for his success.
“My crew chief (Doug Richert) and I have been working really well together and are developing a great relationship,” Edwards said. “Jon Wood and I have been helping each other a lot, too. As a driver, I’ve been more patient and haven’t been taking as many chances.”
Edwards attended Missouri until January, when he dropped his Winter 2003 classes to concentrate on the racing season.
He joined the ROUSH Racing team in February after racing in seven NCTS events for MB Motorsports in 2002.
Edwards’ next race is the O’Reilly 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn., on Aug. 20.
Edwards said it will probably be the toughest race of the year, because the track at Bristol is unique.
“We’re going to approach it with the same mentality we have been,” Edwards said. “We’ll pay attention to our setup and work together as a team.”