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Long shot Edwards hopes for insanity at Richmond

September 07, 2012, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com



Long shot Edwards hopes for insanity at Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. -- Rain delays. Oil on the race track. Cautions. Crashes. Craziness. Chaos.

Carl Edwards wants it all.

"I'm hoping for an insane race," the Roush Fenway driver said. "I want things to be just off the charts. Rain delays, oil on the track ... I want things to happen. I need this race to be insane. People running out of fuel, crazy cautions, four-wide down in Turn 1. That's what I need. I'll take whatever I can get."

"It would be unreal to be doing that back flip on the front straightaway and be in the Chase."

--CARL EDWARDS

And he might need it, given that last year's championship runner-up has to win Saturday's Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway, and hope a few other drivers have bad nights, in order to snag a wild-card berth into the Chase. At 14th in points and without a victory to fall back on, Edwards needs to not only snap his 58-race winless skid but also to have Kyle Busch finish 24th or worse with no laps led, Jeff Gordon finish 12th or worse with no laps led, and Tony Stewart maintain his tenuous hope on 10th place in the points.

That's a shaky house of cards, at best. And yet, Edwards led 206 laps here in the spring, before his best chance at a victory this season went awry because of a jumped restart. Edwards is using the same car this weekend that he did in April, and he has studied the race to see where Stewart -- who finished fourth in that event, but whom Edwards thought had the best car -- was beating him.

"I'm going to sit here and tell you, I can win this race," Edwards said. "It's going to happen. That's what we're going to go to. That's how race car drivers think. And if we can do that, it is not farfetched to see a couple of guys have bad nights. But with everything that's going to happen here in this race, I think truly, it could happen. And I'm hoping that it does. It would be unreal to be doing that back flip on the front straightaway and be in the Chase."

Although 10 drivers already have clinched positions in the 12-man playoff that opens next weekend in metro Chicago, there are plenty of competitors still with their seasons on the line. Eight drivers remain mathematically alive for the final two berths, and four of them are in must-win positions. The slim Chase aspirations of Edwards, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano and Paul Menard all hinge on a victory at the .75-mile oval, leading some to wonder how rough Saturday night's event might be.

"I think truly, in a situation like this, nobody's going to blame a guy for going for it and being a little aggressive," Edwards said. "I mean, there's a difference between just wrecking somebody and ruining their night, or just moving them out of the way to win. I think there will be more acceptance of that stuff this weekend just because there's so much on the line. That doesn't mean the emotions won't be there, but I think people will understand it better after they calm down."

So how far would Edwards be willing to go? "If Kyle and Jeff are in the positions they need to be," he said, "I would not want to be in front of our 99 car at the end of this race if it meant the win. We have to win. That's all there is to it."

That would play into the chaos that Edwards hopes to see. Of course, a fast car helps, and Edwards has seen a noticeable uptick in performance since Chad Norris moved into the crew chief's role on the No. 99 team in late July at Indianapolis. Although Edwards ran out of gas two weeks ago at Bristol and blew an engine last Sunday night at Atlanta, his cars have been faster, which gives him hope for Saturday as well as next season.

"We're getting over the hump, but we're not over it yet," he said. "I know what it's like to have the fastest cars in the garage. We don't have the fastest cars in the garage right now, but I'm telling you, we're better."

While Edwards' primary focus is Saturday, he has thought ahead to next season. He and Roush Fenway general manager Robbie Reiser talked Thursday about 2013 and agreed Norris -- who replaced longtime No. 99 crew chief Bob Osborne, who stepped down partly for health reasons -- still is adjusting to his role. A decision on who will be the crew chief on Edwards' car for next season has not been made yet.

"I don't think we've given [Norris] time," Edwards said. "He's just figuring out how I am. So my goal would be to work with Chad the rest of the year and be able to make a very good decision with Chad being part of the decision-making. Because we're still at the point where he's telling me things that I'm doing wrong that he doesn't like, and I'm telling him things that I don't like, and we haven't really figured each other out."

Those decisions, though, are for later. Right now, the focus is on Richmond and trying to recapture the performance that had Edwards on the brink of victory here in the spring. That race accounts for all but 48 of the laps Edwards has led this season but resulted in a 10th-place finish when he mistakenly thought he was the leader on a late restart. He was sent to the back under penalty and didn't get a chance to battle eventual winner Busch for the victory.

And oh, how he could use that victory right now. No wonder Edwards thinks back to that night every now and then. "Yeah. I do," he conceded. "I think about that race a little bit. But you just never know. If it hadn't gone that way for us, Kyle wouldn't have his win. There are so many things that happen in this sport."

DriverStartsWinsTop-5sTop-10sLaps LedAvg. Fin.
Kyle Busch15412138914.7
Jeff Gordon39215241,41314.7
Ryan Newman21151243711.8
Marcos Ambrose7012016.1
Joey Logano7011017.6
Carl Edwards1603844214.8
Paul Menard11000127.5

And some of them can be a little crazy -- which is just what Edwards is hoping for Saturday night.