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Carl Edwards: Broken foot? No problem....well, except for the pain. But he'll just suck it up at Atlanta

  Carl Edwards limping through the Atlanta Motor Speedway garage (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   Carl Edwards is trying to put a good spin on it, but it's hard – breaking your driving foot while playing Frisbee?
   He'll be in Sunday's Atlanta 500, cast and all, and at least he's a left-footed braker. But this probably isn't going to be much fun.
   Healing should take about eight weeks.
   Fortunately Edwards has a fairly comfortable spot in the playoff standings, 150-plus points up on the men fighting for the 12th-place cut, with two races to go.
    In the big picture, of NASCAR history and injuries, Edwards' injury ranks about a two on a scale of 1-10. Dale Earnhardt Sr. was racing again only a few weeks after his heart had been literally ripped out of place in a bad crash at Pocono. And he raced with a broken sternum once too. Mark Martin – and others – have been so badly injured they had to be lifted in and out of their cars by their crews, yet still raced. And Terry Labonte managed to win a championship despite racing a broken wrist the last few weeks.
    Darrell Waltrip once raced for several weeks with such a bad concussion that he – after finally conceding the issue – didn't even remember racing at all.
    And then there was Ricky Rudd, who was pretty badly banged up in a wild Daytona roll but still raced the next weekend at Richmond: "Mental toughness to me," Edwards said, "is a  picture of Ricky Rudd with his eyelids taped open. 
    "This is nothing. I'm doing fine."

   Ricky Rudd: 1984 was a year to remember. He crashed at Daytona and then raced the next week with his swollen eyes taped open (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


For Jimmie Johnson, Edwards' injury recalled one of his own faux pas – breaking his wrist when falling off the top of a golf cart while horsing around. His boss, Rick Hendrick, was not amused: "When I came back, and got off the plane, the one waiting there to take me to the hospital was Mr. Hendrick," Johnson said sheepishly.
   "I'm not sure how Jack Roush (Edwards' car owner) deals with things, but Rick is that father-figure to us. And Rick never said a word – But just seeing his eyes and understanding that he was disappointed in me was enough.
    "It was like that 'father' deal where when your parents don't say anything, so you know they're really mad.
    "So I'm like 'Man, I've really disappointed this man.'
    "I make sure I stay away from making stupid mistakes again."
    At least Johnson's injury occurred during the off-season.
    Edwards' comes at one of the most crucial stages of the season, with the championship chase less than two weeks away. And Edwards is still winless on the Cup tour this season, after a league-leading nine wins last year.
    Not only that, but Edwards, who won at Montreal last weekend with a dramatic last lap pass, is battling Kyle Busch for the Nationwide championship and thus has to run in Saturday night's Nationwide race here at Atlanta Motor Speedway. But he'll have teammate Matt Kenseth on hand for relief.
   "Jack's reaction was something along the lines 'You just can't go a day without showing everybody how dumb you are, can you?'" Edwards said with a laugh.
    "When I hurt my thumb (a while back) I told him I thought it was going to be all right…and he said 'Damn straight, it's going to be all right.'
    "At least he can see the humor in it.  He understands.
    "We're going to race no matter what; it's just up to me."
    So once again the long-standing NASCAR policy of requiring a driver – however injured -- to start the race in order for his team to get championship points is once more in the spotlight. No subs, like other sports allow.
    "The race car is really the simplest part of having a foot injury," Edwards insists.  "I feel for all the folks who have to go around on crutches.  That's a lot harder than it looks, just to do everything.
    "I'm always up for a challenge, but my big thing is I just hope this heals up to where it's a zero issue in the race car.   
     "I've had a habit of bending pedals, because I feel like the harder I push on that pedal the faster the car goes. And now I have to really, really push on it softly. That's been a little tough.
   "The pain isn't that bad unless I push too hard on the pedal. And -- trust me -- I know right when I push too hard.
    "But I’m very fortunate. The two bones broke in a manner they said was one-in-a-million. It could have been pretty bad.
    "As long as I don't walk on it or push anything too hard I should be all right."
    The 'cast' is a special ortho-boot. "They said they could put a cast on it, but then I couldn't remove it (for several weeks)," Edwards said.
    "So they gave me was a walking boot that I'll wear all the time, except when I'm in the car."
   While driving the car, he'll have a special carbon-fiber piece on the sole and a form-fitting plastic cover.
   "They say as long as I keep my 'shoe' laced up tight I can't really do any damage," Edwards says.
    "I'm not taking any pain medication at all, and I don't plan on taking any.
    "The only thing I would do is if, after the race on Sunday night, if I couldn't sleep I might take something. But I haven't filled any prescriptions."
    And if he wins…..
   "I hate to say it, but I probably won't be doing a backflip for six to eight months, no matter how many races we win," Edwards concedes.
    Aside from the pain and aggravation, there is the embarrassment, of breaking a foot while playing Frisbee.
    Edwards says "You could get hurt doing anything.
    "But all the things I've done the last few weeks are things I do all the time. I never thought I'd break a bone playing Frisbee. 
    "I rode my motorcycle to the university where we were playing Frisbee…..
     "So you never know. 
     "Things happen.
     "When I went into the hospital the other day, I walked through the front door on some crutches and there was a guy sitting there who was missing the bottom half of one of his legs. So I have nothing to complain about.
     "I can still do my job pretty well."
    And if he's in a crash, how quickly can he get out of the car?
    "I can get in and out of the car really fast," Edwards says. "I'll just be laying on the ground; I won't be standing up."


   Jimmie Johnson (L, with crew chief Chad Knaus) is still embarrassed about breaking his wrist while horsing around with a golf cart (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Chase format

For all of our griping about the chase format, this is one instance where I think it helps. If one of the real championship contenders (Johnson, J. Gordon or Stewart) were to be seriously injured, he could sit out a race and still make the chase, and thereby not risk losing the championship. Of course, this only holds true in the first 26 races, not the last 10

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