Richmond II: Carl Edwards preview

Edwards Looking To Build On Two Top-10 Finishes At Richmond CONCORD, N.C. (September 8, 2004) -- Only one word can describe the past three weeks for NEXTEL Cup rookie Carl Edwards, unbelievable. Edwards made his Cup debut at Michigan three...

Edwards Looking To Build On Two Top-10 Finishes At Richmond

CONCORD, N.C. (September 8, 2004) -- Only one word can describe the past three weeks for NEXTEL Cup rookie Carl Edwards, unbelievable. Edwards made his Cup debut at Michigan three weeks ago and raced his way to a 10th place finish. This placed him in good company being one of only five active Cup drivers to finish in the top-10 in their first Cup start. An accomplishment that surprised even Edwards.

"I'm very fortunate to be in the ride that I'm in," said Edwards. "Racing in the NEXTEL Cup Series is just a different intensity level, everyone races a lot harder. At Michigan I raced around 20th most of the day and I raced harder for 20th than I have for most wins ever in my life. It was a lot of fun though. To finish 10th in our first outing was a victory for the entire No. 99 team."

Following Michigan, Edwards went on to Bristol where he ran all three NASCAR events, taking home a win in the No. 99 Superchips F-150 and finishing 19th and 33rd in the No. 3 Busch and No. 99 Cup cars respectively.. Although he finished 33rd in the No. 99 Roundup Ford, Edwards was racing in the top-15 before an unavoidable wreck ended his night early.

Edwards and the No. 99 team returned to California the following week with a vengeance qualifying 19th, an improvement of six positions from his attempt the week prior at Bristol. After cutting down a left front tire early on, Edwards re-started the 500-mile event 38th and piloted the No. 99 Shop Rat Ford to a sixth place finish. Chalking up two top-10 finishes in just three career Cup starts, Edwards became one to watch on the circuit. Not too bad for the Joplin, MO native.

"California was fun. I had a blast." Edwards continued, "We had a great race car and I just

drove, drove, drove. It was really awesome there at the end with just how good the Shop Rat Ford was. Bob (Osborne, crew chief) and the guys are just awesome to work with. They continue to give me great cars and great pit stops. I just can't say enough about them."

This week Edwards and the No. 99 team return to Richmond International Raceway with RK-248, the same car they tested a week ago at the track. The team had a successful test accomplishing most of their goals before returning to Charlotte, NC.

"We had a pretty good test," said Edwards. "I was able to run with veterans like Mark Martin so I learned a lot about the track and where to run. Our lap times were ok. I think overall we were pretty happy with our results. We are looking forward to going back there to race this weekend and build on our last three weeks."

If the previous three weeks are a sign of things to come, then Edwards' competition needs to take note. It won't be long before the 25 year old is doing back flips in the NEXTEL Cup victory lane.

-rr-

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