Friday, June 20, 2008
Driver encourages upcoming racers, takes on track
The drivers of the Sprint Cup Series may be taking their first right turns of 2008 this weekend in northern California, but Carl Edwards got a head start on the competition Thursday afternoon in Phoenix.
Edwards visited Phoenix's F1 Race Factory Thursday for a visit with several hundred Arizona NASCAR supporters, where he answered questions from fans and aspiring racers before taking to F1’s indoor go-kart track for a series of races against a number of track partners, media members, and race fans.
When not enjoying his diet of left and right turns Thursday, the 28-year-old Missouri native made no secret of his adoration for Phoenix International Raceway, noting the special role the track has played in his racing upbringing.
"I came here in 2001 and raced in the USAC Silver Crown Series," said Edwards, who now owns a Silver Crown team of his own. “I camped out in a tent on the backstretch, and it was here that I ran my first race on pavement.”
From dirt-track youngster to a Sprint Cup Series veteran, Edwards appears to have mastered the learning curve a driver would normally undergo in such a transition. Evidence of that is seen in Edwards’ finishes in the Sprint Cup Series standings. In his rookie season of 2005, Edwards finished third, before ending up 12th in 2006 and ninth in 2007.
With three wins in 2008 and a position of fourth in the standings - just 206 points behind leader Kyle Busch - Edwards looks primed to qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup for the third time in four years, which would again put him in title contention during the November 9 Checker Auto Parts 500 Presented by Pennzoil at PIR.
The road to the top for Edwards hasn’t be easy, however, and that’s a point he was sure to make to a questioner wondering what it would take to get to the top levels of motorsports.
“What you’ve got to do is go out and sell yourself and do whatever it takes to be there,” he said. “It’s just like any job, you know. Whatever anyone wants to do in the world, there’s somebody who hires those people. You go wear that person out, and eventually they’ll say yes or no.
“Just be persistent.”
With his motivation certain and a Chase berth nearly as likely, will November and PIR be the time and place for Edwards to place his personal stamp on the 2008 Sprint Cup Series championship? For a man who claims to have modeled his signature victory backflip after that of former St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith, a tribute to the legendary baseball player seems like something for which Edwards will be hot on the trail this fall.
Tickets to see Edwards and the other stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in the November 9 Checker Auto Parts 500 Presented by Pennzoil can be purchased online at www.racetickets.com, or over the phone at 1-866-408-RACE (7223). Be a part of it all at PIR!