Edwards on fast track to stardom with Roush Racing. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 18, 2004) -- A year ago, Carl Edwards' racing future was murky, to say the least. A last-minute, rookie hire to drive Roush Racing's No. 99 Superchips Ford, Edwards...
Edwards on fast track to stardom with Roush Racing.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 18, 2004) -- A year ago, Carl Edwards' racing future was murky, to say the least.
A last-minute, rookie hire to drive Roush Racing's No. 99 Superchips Ford, Edwards made his team debut at Daytona International Speedway and briefly led the Florida Dodge Dealers 250 before being sidelined by a mid-race accident.
Edwards, who won NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors in 2003 along with three races, doesn't need to worry about any sophomore jinx. He opened the new year with a victory in the Feb. 13 Florida Dodge Dealers 250.
And he now knows what his future holds.
"Carl is the heir apparent for the No. 6 car after Mark (Martin) retires," said owner Jack Roush during post-race interviews, putting his stamp of approval on Edwards' inevitable move to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.
"I hope we can get Mark to keep going until we get Carl a championship in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, then a chance to run for a championship in the NASCAR Busch Series. I'd like three years; then, I think he'll be in the 6 car."
Post-victory talk might be cheap in some instances but not within the Roush organization which, since 1998, has carefully chosen young drivers to groom for future stardom in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
The system obviously has worked. Greg Biffle, who won the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship in 2000 and the NASCAR Busch Series title in 2002, captured last July's Pepsi 400 and returned to Daytona to sit on the Bud Pole for the 2004 Daytona 500.
Kurt Busch, the series' 2000 Raybestos Rookie of the Year, immediately was elevated to NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. Busch, a 2004 championship contender, counts eight wins in NASCAR's premier series.
Edwards, who grew up racing on NASCAR dirt tracks in central Missouri, isn't getting ahead of himself knowing there is much to be done over the year's next 24 races. He relishes the thought of becoming -- at age 24 -- the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' youngest champion.
But he's also excited about what his boss has promised.
"It's just an honor (and) it just motivates me to work harder every day to be the best driver I can be," said Edwards. "It gives me chills to think about it. Mark Martin is someone I looked up to long before I started racing (because of) his determination and his drive to be a very, very capable race car driver."