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Edwards Hopes To Be Like Jeff At Watkins Glen

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, August 10 2012

Carl Edwards says Jeff Gordon showed that a season can turn around in just one day. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Jeff Gordon has dedicated his life to providing hope for people who are in obscenely short supply of it. Sick children to hungry seniors.

Last weekend, the four-time Sprint Cup champion provided a bit of hope to a couple his fellow Sprint Cup drivers. Not the kind of life-saving hope that Gordon’s involvement in the more important battles he’s been fighting have, but hope on the race track.

Watching Gordon turn his racing season around with a single case of being in the right place at the correct time in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was an interesting batch of competitors. Not the least of them was Carl Edwards, the driver whom a year ago came within a measly point of winning the Cup championship but whom this year is struggling big time.

Earlier this week, as he prepared to head to Watkins Glen International and the final road race of the 2012 season, Edwards had an if Gordon can do it, I can do it attitude in place.

“We watched last weekend,” Edwards said of the race at Pocono, which ended when Gordon found a hole in the mayhem of a late-race restart to move to the front just before rain ended the event, “I got a front row seat to watch Jeff Gordon pull it off and do what needed to be done and that’s a motivator right there, to know that we can do this, it can be done, we just have to go out and race these next five races like they’re the most important races in the world – each one of them.

As had Gordon’s, Edwards’ year has been one of uncanny frustration.

Gordon, who at least had his on-track blues swept aside earlier this month by being named winner of  the Heisman Humanitarian Award for his efforts to save young cancer victims in the African nation of Rwanda, found himself on the wrong end of every form of racing misfortune as summer hit its mid point.

But Edwards has yet to pull out of a season-long funk that nobody around him or his Roush Fenway Racing team has been able to explain.

The No. 99 car, which had used a large stack of points-paying top-fives finishes to tie champion Tony Stewart in the standings at the end of 2012, has zero podiums this year. He has just two top-fives and is an outside-the-Chase 12th in points this week.

If Edwards is going to get enough going this weekend to move closer to the Chase, which is now just five races away, he will have to do it at a Watkins Glen road course where he has never so much as led a lap.

But, can do, he said.

“I think we made a step towards that last weekend with a fast race car and being a little more aggressive,” Edwards said of his day at Pocono, which enede with him in seventh place. “That last restart, it was frustrating we weren’t able to get up there like Jeff did. Hopefully, we can just go out here and have some fun and win a race or two. It would be a huge comeback for us and it would mean a lot.”

Edwards’ problems at the Glen have not been the result of disliking the track or the format. On the contrary, he insists that he kind of enjoys the place and its twisties.

“Watkins Glen is a really fun race track,” Edwards said. “The first time I went there I backed the car into the fence before I completed a lap in practice, so I’ve come a long way as a driver. I feel good on these road courses and I enjoy them, and I know a lot of the fans like them as well. We’ve sat on the pole there, but never won a race there but we’ve run up front and challenged for the win a number of times.”

Besides, as Gordon demonstrated at Pocono, luck can also play a part in shifting fortunes. And, brother, does Edwards ever need a shift in fortunes.

Edwards will get some extra seat time at the road course by competing in the Nationwide Series race on Saturday in the No. 60 Subway Ford Mustang before hitting the track on Sunday in his No. 99 Fastenal Ford Fusion. Saturday’s race will be televised live on ABC at 2:30pm ET, while Sunday’s event starts at 1pm ET on ESPN.

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, August 10 2012
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