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Woody: Carl’s Decision To Stay Single Was Right

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, June 29 2011

Carl Edwards' decision to stay in California and concentrate on the Cup series last weekend was a good one. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Carl Edwards made a last-minute decision to skip last Saturday’s Nationwide race in Wisconsin to concentrate on dialing in his car for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race in California.

As a result (?) Edwards turned in a strong third-place performance.

The reason for the question mark is because nobody will ever know if the two are related. Did Carl’s decision for forego one race improve his performance in the second?

If Edwards had flown to Wisconsin for the Nationwide race he would have missed both of Saturday’s practice sessions at Sonoma – and practice is critical for the Cuppers on a road course.

Sacrificing a Nationwide race in order to concentrate on Cup duties could be a thing of the future, especially when the Nationwide race is a stand-alone event necessitating extensive travel back and forth.

When the Nationwide race is a companion event to the Cup feature it’s no big deal. The driver is already at the track and it’s not like he has to haul his Nationwide car there and turn wrenches to get it race-ready. All he has to do is hop in and drive. It’s even possible that running the Nationwide race helps prepare the driver for the next day’s Cup race on that same track.

Carl Edwards passed on a trip to Wisconsin and it may have paid off. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Tami Kelly Pope)

But scurrying back and forth across the country to race on two different tracks is a different matter.

Frankly, now that the Cuppers aren’t eligible for the Nationwide championship, I’m surprised that they continue to run Nationwide (or truck) races at different venues on Cup weekends.

The hectic travel schedule is an energy-draining hassle, even with private planes standing by. It absurd to suggest that such long-distance double-duty doesn’t interfere with the driver’s Cup duties. There’s also the chance of injury; what if the driver gets hurt in the Nationwide race and wipes out his Cup season?

I know – the driver’s love of racing is commendable, and if he’s willing to make sacrifices to run doubleheaders that’s to his credit.

But a Cup driver is a professional – he’s not out there just on lark – and his first obligation is to his Cup team, his sponsor and his fans. He has a commitment to give them his best effort, and I don’t think he can do it by jetting around the country trying to squeeze in an extra race.

That’s the same reason I always thought it unwise – and selfish – for a driver to attempt to run the same-day Indy 500 and Coke 600. There’s no way he can give his best effort in both races and that means he’s short-changing his team, sponsor and fans.

Apparently Edwards agrees, which is why he made the decision to skip the Nationwide race – no matter how badly he personally wanted to be there – and focus on his Cup duties. After all, he’s on course for the championship in the latter, and ineligible for the former.

I’m sure the Nationwide track promoter, sponsors and fans were disappointed to lose a star like Edwards from the lineup. But it’s a matter of priorities, and last weekend Carl put his in order.

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, June 29 2011
One Comment

One Comment »

  • Russ Edwards says:

    As a former road racer myself I doubt if that was the reason. Both tracks are road courses, and the techniques are the same for both as well as the mechanicals for both cars. Certainly he could use the opportunity to knock the rust off for road racing. And the Cup race is long enough that qualifying position isnt that important.
    So it seems more like a team edict than a drivers decesion. Its doubtful that Edwards has any sayso anyway.