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Notebook: Edwards holding nothing back in Michigan race

August 20, 2011, Sporting News Wire Service, NASCAR.com

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Carl Edwards has led the Sprint Cup points for most of the season. In the next four races, however, he needs to make up ground.

"This weekend I feel like is one of the last races where we can go all-out, go for the win and not worry about the consequences."

--CARL EDWARDS

Those are not contradictory statements. As it stands now, when the Chase field is seeded after the Sept. 10 race at Richmond, Edwards would be tied for fifth.

Why? Because Edwards has but one victory this year. Every Chase qualifier starts with a base of 2,000 points. Three points are added to that total for each victory a top-10 driver accumulates during the first 26 races. (Wild-card qualifiers receive no bonus points, no matter how many races they win.)

Accordingly, Edwards would start the Chase at a six-point deficit to Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick (three wins each) and a three-point deficit to Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon (two wins each).

That's why Edwards has adopted a win-at-all-costs attitude for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. But his approach to this race and the Sept. 4 event at Atlanta, where he hopes to gain ground on the drivers with more wins, is dramatically different from his plans for the short tracks at Bristol (Aug. 27) and Richmond.

"This weekend I feel like is one of the last races where we can go all-out, go for the win and not worry about the consequences," Edwards said Friday. "This one and Atlanta are the ones where I feel like we can just go for it. I feel good about our mile-and-a-half programs.

"At Bristol and Richmond, we're going to be focusing on really learning and building our short-track program, trying to be better for [Chase races at] Martinsville and Loudon. So I'm going to look at the races differently. This one -- 100 percent go for the win. Atlanta -- 100 percent go for the win.

"Bristol and Richmond will be more gearing up for the Chase and all the things that can happen at the shorter tracks."

Related: By air and by sea, Edwards' group makes it work

Did injury actually help Keselowski on the track?

It may be a wild theory, but Brad Keselowski didn't discount it.

Keselowski broke his left ankle in a crash during testing Aug. 3 at Road Atlanta. Four days later, he posted his second victory of the season, at Pocono.

Eight days after that, he finished second to Marcos Ambrose at Watkins Glen.

So what accounts for the sudden success? Here's the theory:

Keselowski is a left-foot braker. Applying sudden, strong pressure to the brakes is extremely painful. Pocono and Watkins Glen have unique corners. When stock car drivers are taught to drive road courses, such as Watkins Glen, they are taught to back up corners -- in other words, not to drive as deep into the turns and jam on the brakes.

So did Keselowski's injury actually cause him to brake more gently and evenly and ultimately to go faster? Keselowski allowed, at least, that the injury hasn't hurt his speed.

"Is it an advantage? I don't see where it's been a disadvantage, other than pit stops, where it's been really miserable," Keselowski said. "It's really, really hard for me to hold the pedals down.

"But I don't see where it's been a disadvantage on the race track. It certainly doesn't feel good, but I don't see where it's been a disadvantage, so there might be some truth to that theory."

Has Keselowski learned anything about driving technique from the experience?

"I think you're learning something while you're driving the car, and things that work one time may not work the next time. Maybe we're just in a swing of time in our cars where, the way they handle, they need less brake. But those things come and go over time.

"You've got guys like Jeff Gordon. He's a brake pedal masher -- and he's good at it. He's been running good, too. There's always something that completely contradicts whatever theory there is."

Related:

Keselowski riding wave of momentum into Michigan

Sound Off: Drivers talk about Keselowski's performance

Keselowski smiling through the pain

Behind the Wheel: Best medicine is a win