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Old 02-08-2006, 02:11 PM
mvbski mvbski is offline
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Default NASCAR TESTING: Edwards in high gear

NASCAR TESTING: Edwards in high gear

Popular driver busy competing in two series

By JEFF WOLF
REVIEW-JOURNAL


The NASCAR regular season won't begin until Feb. 19, but Carl Edwards already is running at full speed.

His dazzling 2005 season in the Nextel Cup series, when he tied teammate Greg Biffle for second in the standings, has only added to his agenda, increasing demands for his time.

About the only break he had Tuesday during Busch Series testing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was for lunch.

After exiting his race car, he quickly drove away in a van with his girlfriend, Olympic gold medal swimmer Amanda Beard, so they could find a quiet place for a 20-minute jog.

"I'm sorry, sir," he said to a reporter waiting to ask a few questions during the break. "I'm really pressed for time."

Upon returning from his jog, Edwards briskly headed to the garage, again telling the reporter he might not have any time and again apologizing.

With some major league athletes that would have been perceived as a brush-off, but Edwards was sincere and legitimately busy.

He wanted to squeeze in as many laps as possible before the two-day test ended. From there, it was a helicopter ride to McCarran Airport for a 6 p.m. flight to Mexico City, where he'll help NASCAR promote its March 5 Busch race there.

There will be little free time until the season ends in November as he juggles full-time driving duties in NASCAR's top two series.

The 26-year-old from Columbia, Mo., became the darling of NASCAR last year, winning four Cup and five Busch races. He was named Busch series Rookie of the Year, finishing third in points, and gained popularity with his post-victory back flips and robust smile.

He was a surprise qualifier for the 10-race Chase for the Championship, which determined the season champion in the Cup series. It was more shocking when he won two of those races to tie for second in points, just 35 behind champion Tony Stewart.

This was the second straight week Edwards was testing at the speedway, along with nearly every other NASCAR driver.

Last week, Edwards was the fastest among Cup drivers with a best lap of 170.778 mph in his No. 99 Roush Racing Ford.

"Testing was great," Edwards said soon after that session. "We were really fast, and I'm pretty pumped to come back here and race."

He wants to become the fourth Roush driver to win in Las Vegas when the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 is held March 12.

Like most Cup races, that event will be a day after he competes in a Busch race.

"I enjoy it," Edwards said last week of running in both series. "It's an unbelievable opportunity to go race more. You get to race for another championship, which is unreal.

"It's just fun to wake up on Saturday mornings and know I get to go run a race, and I love it."

Edwards' season will start early with his first Budweiser Shootout, a nonpoints Cup race Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway.

Eight days later, the Cup season opens with the Daytona 500, and Edwards is eager to prove last year wasn't a fluke.

"I feel like the success we had and the things we learned last year just give me an opportunity to go run even better.

"The only pressure I've felt in my life is just from me internally. I wake up in the morning and want to win worse than anything in the world.

"I think the success is a good thing, not a bad thing."
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Old 02-12-2006, 12:05 AM
sick gambler sick gambler is offline
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