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Happy Hour: Edwards ready to win or go home

August 03, 2012, Seth Livingstone, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com

No. 99 team works hard in Pocono garage, earns top-five speeds in practice

LONG POND, Pa. -- Carl Edwards is a man on a mission.

Just win, baby.

Winless since March 2011 and on the outside looking in at the Chase field, Edwards knows he probably needs to find Victory Lane -- perhaps twice in the next six races -- to have a realistic shot at making the Chase.

Pennsylvania 400

Practice 1
Pos.DriverSpeedTime
2.Kyle Busch173.99451.726
3.C. Edwards173.96751.734
4.M. Kenseth173.95051.739
5.G. Biffle173.77251.792
Pos.DriverSpeedTime
2.M. Kenseth176.97450.855
3.G. Biffle176.72450.927
4.Kyle Busch176.56450.973
5.C. Edwards176.39151.023

After finishing third on the speed chart in Saturday's first practice session at Pocono Raceway, Edwards went out and turned the fifth-fastest lap of the afternoon in Happy Hour.

"That is our mission this week, to go win this race," Edwards said. "We had the best practice we've had in a long time. [Crew chief Chad Norris] and all the guys on our Fastenal team are doing a really good job. That is truly the best-balanced and fastest car we have had here in years. ... I think we have as good of a race car as we have ever had at this race track."

That's saying something, because Edwards has won twice in 15 Cup starts at Pocono -- most recently in August 2008. He was second in the June 2009 race, leading 103 laps.

Edwards is coming off a disappointing 29thth last week at Indianapolis, a race in which failure of a spark plug boot caused him to finish four laps down. That left Edwards 12th in points: 149 behind leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. and, more importantly, 61 behind Clint Bowyer, the 10th-place driver.

Edwards ran 12 laps in Happy Hour with a best of 176.391 mph. Earnhardt had the fastest lap (177.441), but Edwards' Roush Fenway teammate, Matt Kenseth, was next in line at 176.974.

"I think all our Fords are pretty fast," Edwards said.

Despite his precarious situation in points, Edwards is maintaining a positive demeanor.

"We don't ever panic," he said. "We know we have to go win races. That is really, at the end of the day, our job. We are supposed to win races."

Edwards says it is "kind of fun" to take a win-or-go-home approach into a race.

"We have to take chances and remember when we are out there racing that this is not racing for points," he said. "We are not racing for anything other than a victory. We are going to try to have fun with it, make the most of it and hopefully it works out."

It's a far cry from what Edwards became accustomed to last season when he battled Tony Stewart in a race for the Cup that couldn't have been closer. Stewart claimed the title by virtue of winning more races during the season.

"I have been humbled before in this sport where we have expected to run very well in the points and had misfortune or poor performance,"Edwards said. "This is nothing new. I respect how tough this sport is.

"The position we are in now is not shocking to me. It is frustrating. It is too bad, but we have been here before. I feel like we are strong enough and fast enough and mentally tough enough to go do the best we can and not let this bring us down any farther. I think that is evident by how we qualified last week and are running right now."