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NASCAR needs Carl Edwards back in the spotlight...and Edwards says it's key to open hot

  In his five seasons on the stock car tour, Carl Edwards has matured into a championship caliber racer. Will 2010 finally be the charmed run? (Photo: Autostock)  

   By Mike Mulhern

   Yes, this sport needs Carl Edwards doing more backflips.
   And the doctor has given him the okay.
   Now if he can just start winning again.
   Of all the drivers on the stock car tour who have that rare blend of witty personality, driving talent, and willingness to make outrageous moves, perhaps no one is better than this guy.
   Yet one of the biggest enigma's of NASCAR 2009 was Carl Edwards.
  After a brilliant 2008, an amazing nine Sprint Cup tour wins, and a hard charge at the championship, nothing much went right for him and crew chief Bob Osborne last year.
   And the long winless streak seemed to take a toll on him.  And that Frisbee deal, with the broken foot, still irks him....though maybe now Denny Hamlin, who tore an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) the other day playing basketball, can commiserate.
   But it's a new year, and Edwards – "Last year I felt like I didn't know 'quack,'" he quips, taking a line from his sponsor's new commercial – is trying to be optimistic.

  The big day is looming for Carl Edwards and wife Kate (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   And he's got a baby on the way, due Feb. 17, the Wednesday between Daytona and California: "To be honest I don't know the logistics of it. If it's 8 a.m. the day of the 500, and she calls and says 'Hey, it's happening,' I don't know what I'm going to do yet.
   "I think Robbie Reiser (the shop manager) is working with Erik Darnell (as a fill-in driver); that's our tentative plan.
   "The other questions is what if she's late? Do I leave for California for practice.....I just don't know yet."
   The infield care center, perhaps? "Yeah," Edwards says with a laugh. "Just bring the doctor along. But that doesn't sound as good to her as it does to me.
   "I should go talk to Jeff (Gordon) and Matt (Kenseth) about it. I can't see myself missing a race; but then I can't see missing my child being born.
   "And she's got me on my toes. We were walking across the parking lot the other day and she stopped and said 'I think my water just broke.' And I went 'Oh......!!!'
    "Then she said 'Just kidding.'
   And what about the new baby, and all that entails, taking some of the edge off Edwards' typically high-energy game? At one point Gordon's new daughter had clearly become a distraction, in the motorcoach lot at the track, keeping Gordon and wife up all hours of the night.
   Might Edwards lose a  step here?
   "I've heard a lot of people say that will be an issue, but I don't think so," Edwards says. "If our baby is born and well, my genetic material has been passed on, and I feel I can be a little more cavalier with things."
  And Edwards laughed again. "So in a way, it's a little liberating," Edwards said. "Maybe I've served my purpose here...so let's go have a blast.
   "But, gee, I'm way set for all this (hitting the road with the new baby). I've got a plane, a motorhome, people to help me; I'm way set, I'm sitting pretty. If I were still living with my parents and racing at the dirt track, I'd be in deep trouble."


  Can crew chief Bob Osborne (L) help light Edwards' fires again? (Photo: Autostock)

   To be blunt about it, Edwards has the charisma that this sport desperately needs in its headlines. Few if any drivers can match him there.
   So getting off to a good start...
   "It's important to get a win anywhere in the season....And to get a win early in the season takes a lot of pressure off ," Edwards said.   "We've talked about that...that we want to start the season off with some trophies."
   For one thing, last year, after his big 2008, the media was all over Edwards for not winning early, then for not winning, and it continued throughout the season.
   "Last season, right up till Richmond (September) we were all struggling just to make a spot in the chase," Edwards says.
    Certainly Edwards' 2009 season was an exercise in dealing with frustration: "There are so many ways to look at winning and losing in this sport. The frustration for me last season was that we didn't perform as we did in 2008. That season it seemed so simple.
    "And then when you go through a season where you don't get the same results....well, you have to get to work."
    Part of the work this season will be dealing with a run of new rules changes expected from NASCAR.
   And just what those new rules might be is still up in the air. Edwards says he's in favor of NASCAR opening up the rules at Daytona and Talladega: "Those rules can be as lax as NASCAR will let us. You can pretty much chose your destiny at those tracks anyway."
    As Edwards ruefully recalls – that 2008 fall 500 at Talladega, where he crashed out while bump-drafting teammate Greg Biffle late in the race, an incident that took both out of the championship hunt.
    Still, as hot as Edwards ran in 2008, he was a hot pick for the 2009 title....but never really contended.
   So this year? "Our goals are simple: I want to win both championships," he says, referring to Cup and Nationwide. He'll be one of just a few men running both series.
    "I'm very excited -- I just want to go out and have the year I know we can have...the year I thought we were going to have last year. 
     "When Matt won the 500 and then California, probably all of us thought 'Man, this is it!  This is going to be a lot of fun.'
    "But through the year we did struggle. Personally I learned a lot about myself, and about the team and what we need. And we've been able to work on that stuff. So I'm just excited to get the year going."
   And put 2009 far behind.

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 Carl Edwards is one of the most popular drivers among the media, and he's quite media-savvy too...which makes his success in 2010 all the more important for the sport (Photo: Autostock)



Hmmm another so so Roush article...

Don't get me wrong..Jack Roush is funny as all get out...but now Carl has charisma? That's pushing it! Now I don't have anything against Carl..seems like a pretty decent guy...and he can be funny..and since the altercation with Kenseth I have seen alittle more "fire" then "Opie" in his attitude. I am questioning his sanity though...a new baby and he is racing both Series? Obviously he has NOT talked to Gordon..or ANYONE else with children! I might wonder if after the baby is born might he regret spending so much time on the track away from his child and it may begin to "show" in his performance in at least one of the Series.

Charisma? Hey, who do you

Charisma? Hey, who do you want here at the wheel -- Jay Leno versus Conan O'brien? LOL We've got to start somewhere.
But you are right -- running both series is, well, not something I would recommend to anyone, much less someone with a new baby in the house. But sponsors and sponsorships are demanding -- even in Nationwide. Remember that Milwaukee race a few years back....

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