News & Media

Edwards trains with SWAT, doesn't need backup

March 22, 2012, Dave Rodman,

When he gets to Texas Motor Speedway in a couple weeks, Carl Edwards knows he has the ultimate backup group in place -- members of the Fort Worth (Texas) Police Department's SWAT team.

Before heading to this weekend's Sprint Cup weekend at Auto Club Speedway, Edwards spent Wednesday in a series of training exercises with the law-enforcement group and found out a couple of potentially key things.

Carl Edwards

Best Tracks (Avg. Finish)
TrackStartsWinsAvg. Fin.
Watkins Glen708.7
Las Vegas8210.2
 Auto ClubTexas
Laps Led121493
Lead Lap Fin.1210
Avg. Start18.914.4
Avg. Finish9.015.5

"I learned a lot and had a lot of fun with it," Edwards said. "In a lot of ways, it was just like NASCAR in relation to what goes on behind the scenes that people in the stands might not see. It was very educational. My eyes were opened to how much work they put in.

"I've definitely got some new friends that were pretty interesting guys. I don't know if any of their techniques would come in handy in NASCAR, but the biggest thing I learned is that safety and preparation are the ultimate for them -- and their biggest goal is to serve the community."

The amusing aspect of the exchange is that Edwards isn't quite sure what the "top cops" do at Speedway Motorsports Inc.'s Texas facility. Undercover work might be part of it and Edwards -- who like most upper-echelon athletes is apt to mingle on a weekly basis with all manner of celebrities -- isn't sure how that will go.

"I found out that a lot of the guys that were here [Wednesday] work out at the race track, so they're excited to come by and meet some of our team," Edwards said, laughing. "They didn't tell me exactly what they do out there, so I don't know if that's good or bad. But seriously, they were pretty humble guys, and that was pretty impressive."

But the biggest bottom line for Edwards, who tied 2011 Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart in points after 36 races last season but lost the championship from having fewer wins than three-time champ Stewart, is that, despite the abysmal start to the 2012 season Edwards and his Roush Fenway Racing team are experiencing, he might not need SWAT -- or anyone else's -- help, he said.

Heading into the fifth race on the schedule, Edwards is 15th in the standings, and only 14 points out of a qualified spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, since Brad Keselowski currently has the 12th position locked up via his wild-card-earning win at Bristol.

"The only real mistake we've made is running out of fuel at Phoenix -- that was inexcusable," Edwards said. "But it's four races. We know how strong we are and we're not down-and-out at all. We're motivated, we're ready to go race and to be leading those points before too long."

That's familiar territory, as Edwards led the standings for 21 weeks last season, not counting the tie after Homestead.

On the surface, this season might call to mind Edwards' 2009 campaign, when he was winless after leading the league in wins, with nine, in 2008. His first four 2012 races actually leave him in a much-worse position than he was in 2009, which he endured as part of a 70-race winless streak.

"I'm a different racer and the team is different than it was in 2009," Edwards said. "We've been through all the ups and downs and we know that we can do this, so I think that we're just fine."

Edwards tried to claim the blame for his Lap 24 accident at Bristol, which ruined his day and led to a 39th-place finish -- his worst in two full years, or since he was 39th at Atlanta in the fourth race of 2010. But the fact is his roller-coaster ride in 2012 only proves how variable the fortunes of racing can be.

"This sport is strange right now," Edwards said. "You can't count on any track to be great or any track to be bad [even though] California, I think, is statistically one of our best tracks and Texas is someplace we think we can really do well.

"I'm going to California to win and to Texas to win -- just like we went to Bristol to win. I'll tell you one thing I learned, and why I think looking at 2008 to 2009 doesn't work: Look back to where Tony Stewart was [in 2011] in the middle of the season and where they ended up.

"You can't count anyone out and you sure as hell can't count yourself out. So we're going to win this thing. That's it, and we showed ourselves last year that we can do it."

In the end, Edwards only laughed when he was asked if his day of training had left him with the comfort of knowing he had a backup career plan, if he suddenly needed it. But he was serious about one aspect of it that he deals with almost on a daily basis.

"If I had to pick one guy in this Cup garage to go into a life-and-death situation with, it would have to be [crew chief] Bob Osborne or Jack [Roush, team owner]," Edwards said. "Those guys are tough, and they wouldn't lay down on you. They'd stand there next you, no matter how ugly it got and they'd be there."

Edwards' current winless streak is only at 37, so desperate measures are a ways down the road, yet but he was comfortable knowing he has the backup he needs.

Carl Edwards rappells down the side of a tower during a SWAT training event. (Getty Images)

* Video: Edwards jumps out of window during SWAT training exercise