News & Media

From the Notebook: Edwards not missing Nationwide Series ...yet

March 27, 2012, Dave Rodman,

Bodine ready for Martinsville; owner standings start to straighten out

There's no question Carl Edwards was pleased to finish fifth in Sunday's rain-shortened Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway, and in the process pick up three spots in the championship standings.

What's equally obvious is the Roush Fenway Racing stalwart's comfort level at sitting idle for this season's first five Saturdays, once Edwards weighed-in with his opinion.

Carl Edwards

Cup stats at M'ville
Laps Led31
Avg. Start17.1
Avg. Finish16.3
Lead-Lap Finishes11

Edwards had previously raced the Nationwide Series, virtually full-time in conjunction with his Cup Series schedule for the past seven years. Between the 2011 and 2012 seasons Edwards decided he would completely quit the Nationwide realm, where he won the 2007 championship.

Coming into California, Edwards said he'll need a while longer to determine just what having extra time during race weekends that are run in combination with the Nationwide Series might mean.

"It made the season start a little slower and it was difficult for me, that way," Edwards said, noting the obvious. "I haven't gotten to race quite as much."

But since the typical combination weekend involves a lot of hustling between garage areas -- jogging at best and golf cart-borne at worst -- so far Edwards is varying degrees of thankful.

"At Bristol I was ultra-grateful that I wasn't running the Nationwide Series," Edwards said. "I was a little bit under the weather on Saturday morning and it was nice to be able to get out of the [Sprint Cup] race car, calmly walk to the hauler and spend as much time as I wanted with Bob [Osborne, Cup crew chief] to focus on our race car."

Edwards revealed his groundbreaking plan for this season during January testing at Daytona. Last weekend he reconfirmed when his final decision on racing a Nationwide car this season might come.

"I think it's going to take 10 or 15 races for me to get really in the swing and to make an accurate assessment of the costs and benefits of not running the Nationwide Series," Edwards said. "Right now, it's been good. But we'll see what happens."

As much of the California race that was run, was about what Edwards expected. Martinsville hasn't been one of his noted hotspots, but he forecast a possible change.

"I'm actually pretty excited about Martinsville, too," Edwards said. "We've been working on some stuff and I was really excited about racing at Bristol. That's what was so frustrating about getting crashed-out early [after 24 laps].

"But this sport's strange right now. You can't count on any track to be great or any track to be bad. We could go dominate Martinsville and then run terrible [at Texas]. You never really know what to expect until that first practice is over."

Edwards' career stats at the Cup Series' next two venues point that out. At Martinsville, Edwards is the most recent pole winner, but he has only five top-10 finishes in 15 starts, with a best of third in 2008. At Texas, he has three wins in 14 career starts, but only six total top-10 finishes -- although he was third and second in two 2011 Texas races.

Bodine rebounding at Martinsville

Former two-time Camping World Truck Series champion Todd Bodine's 2012 "season of hope" continues this weekend at Martinsville Speedway, where Bodine will drive his second race for owner Tom DeLoach's Red Horse Racing.

Bodine has a handshake deal for the full season, but consummating it will take sponsorship. Bodine's a proven producer, as he's finished in the top-six in the Truck Series' standings for the past seven seasons.

Bodine said he's not sure what'll be on his Toyota Tundra at Martinsville, but he and teammates Timothy Peters, a former Martinsville Truck and Late Model Stock Car winner and John King, who won the Daytona season-opener in his first start at the track, are ready.

"It's hard to not go [to the race track] when you know you're close to having something done [for potential sponsorship]," Bodine said. "All three teams went to Motor Mile [short track in Radford, Va.] last week, to get us back in the short-track swing of braking and gassing and turning. That's what we did to get ready for Martinsville."

Bodine knows crew chief Rick Gay has his truck ready. The wait's on for the phone to ring on sponsorship.

"It just takes time, and everybody doesn't work in our time frame," Bodine said. "You've just got to be patient and hopefully one of the [sponsorship] deals will happen."

Owners' points reality

Owners in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series have hit the first critical milestone in their seasons, the race at which current owners' points are used to determine the locked-in positions in their respective starting lineups.

The best work in the Sprint Cup garage was done by Travis Kvapil, who raced his No. 93 BK Racing Toyota into 30th in the owners' standings and David Reutimann, who kept his head down in Tommy Baldwin Racing's No. 10 Chevrolet after "teammate" -- in a numerical sense -- Danica Patrick put their number in a hole after being an innocent accident victim at Daytona.

Reutimann's currently in a tie for 34th in the owners' standings with Richard Childress Racing's No. 33 Chevrolet, which started the season with Elliott Sadler, did four races with Brendan Gaughan, who is on the initial Martinsville entry list.

At the most risk is Landon Cassill, Kvapil's teammate who's fallen to 36th in the owners' standings, five points behind the 10 and 33. Cassill Tweeted early Monday morning "Terrible luck these first five races, we're going to have to dig in and get to work." That mode also fits David Stremme, Josh Wise, Joe Nemechek and Michael McDowell -- none of whom are closer than 18 points out going into Martinsville, where they all have to qualify on time.

On the Nationwide side, owners are competing for spots in the top 30, with the twist being they have to attempt every race to remain eligible. The teams on the "outs" after five races include Randy Hill Racing (No. 08), MAKE Motorsports (No. 50), Go Green Racing (No. 39) and Means Racing (No. 52). The closest of those is 11 points behind ML Motorsports, with the next Nationwide race in three weekends, at Texas.

Owner Standings: Cup Series | Nationwide Series

Elliott on fire heading to Greenville

Chase Elliott has to be the hottest driver in the K&N Pro Series East as the developmental series heads to its second race this season, Saturday night at Greenville-Pickens Speedway outside Greenville, S.C.

Elliott, the teenage son of future NASCAR hall-of-famer Bill Elliott, swept a pair of high-caliber Super Late Model events last weekend, at Mobile, Ala., and Pensacola, Fla. Elliott's teammate in both Late Models and K&N, NASCAR founder Bill France's great-grandson Ben Kennedy, had a top-five at Mobile and a top-10 Sunday at Five Flags Speedway on the Florida panhandle.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.