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Tony Stewart in a backup for Saturday night's Texas 500, while Carl Edwards deals with his own difficult situation: Amanda Beard

  Carl Edwards: good job Friday dealing publicly with ex-girlfriend's almost-tell-all book (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR) 


   By Mike Mulhern


    FORT WORTH, Texas
   As if things weren't tough enough already for Carl Edwards, here comes a tell-almost-all book from his former girl friend Amanda Beard, circa 2006,  before the two married others.
   In Beard's book, the chapter on Edwards and their year-long relationship includes some cutting comments about this sport and about Edwards.
   She complains the drivers' wives and girlfriends she met were too self-centered on the drivers: 'Their entire existence revolved around their significant others….I wanted to scream 'Don't you guys have lives?'
   "They were very sweet, but I didn't have anything in common…."
   And Beard complained that Edwards himself was too self-centered.
   Edwards Friday replied:
   "I've thought about it…and I really didn't know what to say about it…because I really didn't know what to think about it.
   "All I can say is I considered us friends. And I didn't realize she had all those problems; I would have done anything in the world to have helped her with those.
   "Regardless of what she writes, if she ever needs something from me, I'd be there to help her out.
    "I don't know what else to say.
    "I don't know if I'm supposed to talk about the psychology of feelings, when you have a relationship that doesn't work out. Or am I supposed to talk about the strategies to sell books…
    "To be honest with you, it's just weird. I don't know how to address things that I don't even remember happening.
    "It's pretty far out there in left field for me."
    Edwards likes to keep things private, so the Beard situation is difficult for him.
    "I appreciate the questions, but the hard thing is even to talk about it. It really caught me off guard.
    "And it's sad for me to read that. It made me feel a little bit sad for Amanda that she was going through all that.
    "Somebody told me a long time ago that she was going to write a book; and I thought 'Good for her. That's awesome.'
    "All the correspondence we've had between 2006 and now has been good. I considered us friends.
    "I want to be very clear, I'm not going to bash her, I'm not going to say bad things about her. Because I didn't know all that stuff was going on.
   "She's a mother, she's a wife...and she's somebody that I cared about. And if down the road she needs something from me, she's got it."   

  Tony Stewart had a rough Friday at Texas Motor Speedway, and after this scrape with the wall in final practice he and crew chief Steve Addington decided to go with their backup car (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   Tony Stewart won here last fall, in a  championship-decisive showdown with Edwards, and Saturday night's 500 could well be another such battle.
   Stewart will have that winning car on the grid….though it wasn't planned that way. His November winner here was his backup, and crew chief Steve Addington had to unload it after Stewart brushed the wall in Friday practice with his primary.
    "I just got loose and didn't have enough race track to get it gathered up," Stewart said. "So -- driver error."
    Stewart was one of five drivers testing here earlier this year for Goodyear, to confirm the tire package. Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle and Jeff Burton were the others.
    "We ran really well at the test…but it was 40 degrees cooler too," Stewart said. "We tried some things we thought were better, and it probably was for the conditions; but I'm not sure in the heat it was quite as good. 
    "We are going back the direction that we were last fall now."

    This track, though one of the sport's ubiquitous 1-1/2-mile speedways, is quirky. Long greens are the rule, despite a very bumpy, well worn surface.
    Jimmie Johnson says "This track has changed so much over the years. The asphalt is losing grip more and more. The bumps are getting a little bit bigger.
    "Those qualities really make it a handling race. And the team that wins will have earned it."
   And the howling winds this week have caught every driver's attention. Spring weather in Texas has been vicious, and tornadoes are nothing to fool around with.
    Last week's Goodyear test at Michigan International Speedway's new asphalt has been the talk of the garage, with sizzling speeds.
    Matt Kenseth, winner here one year ago, tested Michigan and said he was hitting 215 mph on the straights. And Kenseth said he expected even faster speeds when the stock car tour hits that track in June.
    Johnson says he certainly expected faster speeds than 215 at Michigan: "I would have to imagine there is a ton of speed still left there. Anticipating the speeds, Goodyear I'm sure brought a very hard tire. I expected us to be 225 or something down the straightaways."
    Now those are astounding speeds, yet drivers insist they're not worried.
    But Johnson says even though the new asphalt compounds NASCAR tracks have been using the past three of four years are smooth and tough, he would prefer a decidedly different approach.
    "We've learned a lot with progressive banking, and we can really help race tracks spend some time creating a middle grove and an outside lane," Johnson says.
   "(But) I can also say that we've learned that there are certain asphalt combinations now that are being put down that are going to last a long time but they don't work very well.
     "I think the one at Charlotte is finally coming around. I think the one at Phoenix is going to take a long time before it comes around; I would advise, if anybody is listening, to not choose that blend. Let's get something that wears out. I'm sure it means repaves more often, but it's going to provide a lot better racing."


    Tony Stewart? With a haircut like that, maybe it's time to find a good hat to cover it. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)  

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