Edwards needs to go for gold in Atlanta

Edwards needs to go for gold in Atlanta

Greg Biffle may not know it, but he got an assist on Carl Edwards' first Nextel Cup win last March at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Carl Edwards. Photo by Eric Gilbert. With a handful of laps left in the fourth points race of the new ...

Greg Biffle may not know it, but he got an assist on Carl Edwards' first Nextel Cup win last March at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Carl Edwards.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
With a handful of laps left in the fourth points race of the new season, Edwards' car owner Jack Roush came on the radio and said something that fired up Edwards and pushed him into victory lane. The owner was simply letting Edwards know that Biffle was gaining on him and if he caught him then Edwards should let him by.

Fresh off his first Busch Series win the day before, Edwards had something else in mind. He used a few of the final laps to try out the high line around the track to make sure he could get enough grip in his tires to pass leader Jimmie Johnson. It may have looked like he was slowing down to his owner, but Edwards was looking for a plan. He reeled Johnson in and vaulted past him on the last lap to claim the checkered flag.

"I remember coming off turn four just determined to do what I had to do to get by Jimmie," said Edwards, who was a winner in his 17th Nextel Cup start. "It was tough but somehow I got it done. The entire weekend was really surreal for me. I think that really solidified us as a team to watch which meant a lot."

Edwards may need a similar plan if he wants to give Roush Racing its third straight championship. After four straight top-10 finishes, Edwards had a disastrous 26th-place run at Martinsville last weekend. He trails series leader Tony Stewart by 149 points with just four races left in the season, but if Edwards can rekindle the magic that he had at Atlanta in March, he just may find himself back in the chase.

"I'm really looking forward to going there this weekend," Edwards said earlier this week. "We are taking the same car we raced at Kansas and Charlotte (both top-10 finishes) which is a really fast race car. We didn't get to contend for the win like we should have at Charlotte but I think we should be able to run up front this weekend at Atlanta."

Carl Edwards.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
Edwards made his Atlanta debut during a 13-race run to finish the season last year. He picked up season-best starts (fourth) and finishes (third) at AMS last October. That strong run set the stage for his win in the fourth race of this season. He also started that race fourth and led just nine laps during the race before the dramatic pass for the win.

"I like Atlanta a lot," said Edwards, who will make his third career Cup start at AMS in the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 on Sunday (12:00 noon ET on NBC). "It's a really fast track that enables a driver to try different lines and pass relatively easily."

Edwards is heading to Atlanta hoping for a sweep of the events at the 1.54-mile circuit. But even a rebound back to the front of the field won't mean much if he finishes behind Stewart, Johnson and Biffle, who are all ahead of Edwards in the championship standings.

"We're going to Atlanta to try and get as many points as possible, that's our primary goal," said Edwards, who will also race in the Busch Series event in Texas on Saturday. "But if we win, that would be great, it would mean a lot. We definitely have the car and the team to do it."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Greg Biffle , Jimmie Johnson , Carl Edwards , Jack Roush , Eric Gilbert