Cup Notes: Edwards Closes Out Season In Style
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
Talk about a strong finisher.
Carl Edwards victory in Sunday’s season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway was his second straight as he won at Phoenix the weekend before.
Can’t wait until Speed Weeks, he said.
“Heck yes I wish the season was just starting,” Edwards said. “That would be nice to start the season with these two wins, but we’ll go for three in a row at Daytona. That would be a heck of a place to get three in a row. We’ve been close at Daytona in a couple races. That would be nice. We’ll go there with guns blazing and I think we’re gonna be better than we’ve ever been starting next season.”
Edwards was asked how a driver could go 70 races without a victory and the win two straight.
Good team, he said. “It’s just these guys not giving up. We don’t give up. My guys are unreal and we just had an unbelievable run towards the end of this season. I’m truly blessed. I’m so excited.”
Of going 70 races without a victory, Edwards said, A 70-race winless streak … it’s like a sharp stick in the eye. It’s bad. It’s really bad.”
Edwards led a race-best 189 laps Sunday. His victory was by a very comfortable 1.6 seconds over Jimmie Johnson, who won his fifth straight championship with his finish.
About the only bummer on the day for Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, was a limp he picked up post-race doing his signature back flip.
“Yeah,” he said, “I kind of stubbed my toe a little bit on the ground. I was just kind of over-excited there. It is okay though. I was a little nervous there for a minute but it is fine. I do have my Aflac coverage paid up and that is good. If something does turn out to be broken I will get paid and I have plenty of time to heal, but I think it is fine.”
A little champagne in Victory Lane seemed to ease the pain.
“For our team, to finish like this and be on the upswing that we are, this is as good as it gets,” Edwards said. “I can’t remember who asked the question, but somebody asked a really good question on Friday in here about how I felt this compared to 2008 going into 2009. I feel a lot better right now going into 2011 than I did going into 2009 and that’s because I feel like we’ve got a lot of momentum, things are getting better, we’ve got a new engine that we’re working on that just keeps getting better.
“This is the best performance down the straightaway that I’ve had in a long time today, so we’ve just got a lot of good things going. I can’t tell you guys how much it means to finish the season like this. It’s spectacular for us.”
Burning rivalry: The Sprint Cup Series’ final feud of 2010 features Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick. Or, is it the first feud of 2011?
All will find out at Daytona next February, but what all know today is that Busch was hit behind by Harvick with 25 laps to go in Sunday’s Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
As a result of the wreck, Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, and his hopes to sweep all three races of the Ford Championship Weekend, went up in flames.
And Busch was none too happy about either things.
“Harvick pulled a slide job on me earlier in the day and I crossed over and passed him clean,” Busch explained, “but apparently it wasn’t in the time of day in order to do that. I don’t know. My guys work way too hard to be in this position and fight hard all day long to be put with a wrecked race car at the end of the year. We wanted to come out here and finish strong. We felt like we had a top-four or top-five car.
“It just means so much to me – to those guys – that we come out of here with a good run like we were having. It’s very unfortunate. It’s just a guy that doesn’t have his head on straight apparently today. I thought everything was good. I talked to him in the pre-race in the driver’s meeting and all of that, but he’s such a two-faced guy it just doesn’t matter.”
Harvick, who finished third in the race Sunday and also in the points championship, insisted that Busch got what he deserved.
“As far as the 18 incident,” Harvick said, “he raced me like a clown all day: Three wide, on the back bumper, running into me, and I just had enough.”
Happy Harvick: Despite missing a great chance to get his first championship this season, Kevin Harvick said he was happy about the turnaround his team was able to make from a 2009 season in which he missed the Chase and finished 19th in points.
“Well, it’s a 180 for us,” he said. “Last year at this time we all wanted to we all wanted to put a gun in our mouth. Didn’t know what we needed to do to fix it, and we were running better but we didn’t know if that was going to continue into next year. The guys, we came out of the gate strong. We ran strong all year. And in the end, we came up a little bit short but from where we were last year to this steppingstone, for us to build on is a whole lot better than where we were a year to go to be consistent racing for championships.”
Top rookie: Kevin Conway was named the Raybestos Rookie of the Year after Sunday’s race.
The award was not a huge surprise as Conway was the only driver in contention. Still, he said, feels good.
“Well it’s been a crazy year both on and off the racetrack for me. Started out definitely getting thrown into the deep end of the pool but certainly it’s been a year that’s been unforgettable,” Conway said. “I feel like I’ve really grown a lot as a race car driver and as a person off the racetrack. It’s been an awesome opportunity and privilege and driving with teams that kind of throws it back to the old days where it seems like you’re driving for smaller independent teams that are clawing their way trying to make their stronghold in the sport and you combine that with a rookie driver it makes for a pretty steep learning c urve. Had some awesome people around me this year and a lot of support who helped make this possible. It’s certainly been a dream come true for sure.”
His best finish was 14th. It came at Daytona in the July race.One Comment