Edwards racing up NASCAR standings

With a win today, Columbia’s Carl Edwards will tie a Craftsman Truck rookie record.
Wednesday, August 20, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:16 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 3, 2008

Columbia native Carl Edwards is not satisfied with winning the past two races in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

Edwards said there is always room for improvement.

‘‘I’m probably hard on myself to a fault,’’ Edwards said. ‘‘I just want to do extremely well every time out. It’s hard for me just to sit back and enjoy success; I’m always looking for more forward progress.’’

Edwards, 24, is in his first full season in the NCTS as a driver with the Roush racing team. He is the leader in the rookie standings and ninth overall with 2,057 points. He has won three races and has nine top-five finishes.

Edwards will continue to look for success today in the O’Reilly 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn.

With another victory, Edwards will tie the NCTS rookie record for wins. Roush teammate Kurt Busch, who drives a Winston Cup car, set the record in 2000.

‘‘Bristol is one of those tracks that even if you do everything perfectly and you have the fastest vehicle you still have a 50 percent chance of being in a crash just because the track is so fast and so tight,’’ Edwards said.

‘‘We’re going to go into it knowing that I’ve never run there, knowing that it’s one of the toughest tracks that we’ll run on. We’re just going to try to learn and be patient. If we’re in position to run really well at the end of the race, then we’ll go racing.’’

Edwards has been one of the hottest drivers in the NCTS since he finished second in the O’Reilly 400 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 6.

Edwards said the reasons for his success are driving more patiently, working better with teammate Jon Wood and becoming more familiar with Doug Richert, his crew chief.

‘‘We’re starting to figure out the balance and how to adjust the vehicle so it can go the fastest,’’ Edwards said. ‘‘We’re figuring out what needs to be done and the crew chief and I are getting the truck right more often.’’

Edwards has the benefit of working with an experienced crew chief. Richert has worked on the Winston Cup circuit since 1976 and served as a crew chief for Winston Cup legends Davey Allison and Dale Earnhardt.

‘‘What I’m starting to figure out is that racing is about 50 percent mechanical and 50 percent people skills,’’ Edwards said. ‘‘(Richert) has seen a lot of situations and been with a lot of teams, so he understands the people side of it really well.’’

Despite his success, Edwards is in no hurry to move to a higher racing circuit.

‘‘I feel like I’ve got so much to learn I’d be foolish to think that I can just move up to some other series and have the same success,’’ Edwards said. ‘‘We’ve just figured out how to have success with this truck. I want to stay in the truck series right now and learn as much as I can.

‘‘(Moving to a higher circuit) depends on sponsorship and my performance. If a marketing partner thinks I can go racing in the Busch series and wants to pay for it, then that’s what we’ll do.’’

Until then, Edwards is at home in the NCTS.

‘‘My comfort level is substantially higher now,’’ Edwards said. ‘‘We’re going to Bristol and I have to say I’m more excited than I am nervous. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that way. I’m not sure there’s a real good reason for it but I don’t feel like I’m trying to prove myself as much as I’m trying to go as fast as I can.’’

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