All Geared Up: Edwards Ready For Title Run, More Exciting Races in 2007 * Indy 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. Makes Transition To NASCAR Busch Series * Monday's Test Session Shortened Due To Afternoon Showers DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 22, 2007) --...
All Geared Up: Edwards Ready For Title Run, More Exciting Races in 2007
* Indy 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. Makes Transition To NASCAR Busch Series
* Monday's Test Session Shortened Due To Afternoon Showers
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 22, 2007) -- Carl Edwards' (No. 60 Scotts Ford) calendar already is filled with responsibilities as a race car driver, workout enthusiast, media favorite, record-label owner and race-team owner -- so why does he feel the need to compete in the NASCAR Busch Series?
He's moved up the final point standings in each of the previous two years --in a full-time capacity along with his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series duties -- posting a third-place finish in 2005 and a runner-up standing to series champion Kevin Harvick last year.
But for Edwards, racing's the thing despite his overflow schedule.
That, and the fact he says he'll race in the NASCAR Busch Series until he wins a title.
"I like running the whole season, so I've got another championship to chase," Edwards said. "It's kind of like getting to race two seasons."
In 2005, Edwards was leading the standings prior to the June race at Nashville, when inclement weather forced him to miss the event and lose precious points. He never recovered and Martin Truex Jr. went on to win the second of his consecutive titles.
Last year, despite a performance that would have been good enough to capture a championship in most seasons, Edwards had to play second fiddle to the most dominating year in series history compliments of Harvick.
Heading into 2007, Edwards may wear the label of favorite now that the reigning champion is foregoing a full season of competition. But he knows that his team will have to get better in order to stay ahead of a series full of ever-improving organizations.
"Last year we got beat a lot by Kevin and I noticed on the short tracks we were not in the same ballpark," he said. "I could [also] work a little bit on my driving by not making mistakes and those engineering things, we have addressed them and we're doing some things now that we didn't last year. We should be faster.
"Last year, I don't think the points breakdown reflected the type of racing [the NASCAR Busch Series] had. I feel like that as long as the Busch Series hangs its hat on what it has -- great racing and a variety of drivers from different points in their careers -- it will be exciting no matter how the points race goes."
Pit Stops: Around The Daytona Garage
New Experience Greets Hornish Jr. At Daytona ... From guzzling milk in Victory Lane at Indianapolis to running in the draft at Daytona International Speedway, Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 12 Mobil 1 Dodge) has experienced a wide racing spectrum in the last nine months. Hornish, the 2006 Indy 500 winner who competed in his first two NASCAR races at the end of last season for Roger Penske, is set for a limited schedule in the NASCAR Busch Series this season along with teammates Kurt Busch (No. 12 Penske Truck Dodge) and Ryan Newman (No. 12 Kodak Dodge). Hornish turned his first laps in a stock car at the 2.5-mile superspeedway over the last two days. "I'm pretty realistic," he said. "I'd like to go out there and get a couple of top-five runs throughout the year and I have a feeling coming here if we could stay out of trouble and [depending on] how the car ran, we should be able to do that right off the bat. I want to come here my first time as a rookie and be somewhat competitive. I don't want to go home and not make the race. So this is a part of practice to be able and go and do that." Hornish posted the fastest lap in the draft in Sunday's afternoon session at 47.915 seconds/187.833 mph.
Shepherd A "Test Machine" ... Peter Shepherd (No. 17 Arby's Ford), another in the group of Jack Roush's young, talented drivers, is getting his opportunity to drive vehicles in each of NASCAR's national series. The 20-year-old from Bramton, Ontario, Canada -- another Roush "Gong Show" finalist -- has shown so much promise that he's been tabbed to test the Car of Tomorrow, a NASCAR Craftsman Truck and now Matt Kenseth's NASCAR Busch Series car for Roush Racing. "I believe that I have gotten more laps than any other driver," Shepherd said. "We did a Car of Tomorrow test over at Lake Havasu in Arizona and I ran, like, 1,180 miles in that. So I think I'm up there among the test leaders in laps in the Car of Tomorrow." Shepherd started three NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races for Roush last season and is awaiting word on his schedule for 2007. He's thrilled about the NASCAR Busch Series coming to his home country on Aug. 4. "You see it (NASCAR) everywhere at home now," Shepherd said. "It's getting popular and it seems like my name is getting out there a lot more."
Showers Shorten Monday's Session ... Just before the start of Monday's afternoon session, a brief shower caused a delay of one hour and 25 minutes. However, a steady breeze in the 17-mph range -- gusting to 25 mph -- assisted in drying the track. The 17 teams taking part in the session got back to the task at hand for another hour before the skies opened again and canceled the remainder of the day's test. Carl Edwards utilized the extra time after lunch to watch the live SPEED broadcast of NASCAR's Chairman and CEO Brian France announcing changes to the 2007 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. "When they came up with the Chase, as a fan I really thought, 'well, that could be either good or bad,'" Edwards said. "I was really indifferent, but as a fan watching it, I thought 'wow, that was pretty cool.' I can see from a complete outside perspective where any way they can shake it up and reward guys for wins and make it more dramatic that makes it fun to watch ... I honestly think this is a good way to reward those race teams but not be too over the top."
Lap leaders ... Ward Burton (No. 27 Kleenex Ford), back in the NASCAR Busch Series for the first time since 2001, made a grand re-entrance by claiming the top time during Monday's morning single-car test session. Burton registered a fast lap of 49.092 seconds/183.329 mph to lead the 32 drivers in the session. Jon Wood (No. 47 Clorox/Armor All/American Red Cross Ford), who missed Sunday's session due to a bout with the flu, was the fastest in the rain-shortened afternoon drafting session at 48.422 seconds/185.866 mph. Jamie McMurray (No 37A Yard-Man Ford) had the fast time during Sunday's morning single-car test session, registering 48.855 seconds/184.219 mph, the fastest single-car run time during the first five testing sessions. Kyle Busch (No. 5B Sta-Green/Spectracide/Delphi Chevrolet) also was the fastest overall through Sunday's afternoon drafting session, registering 47.893 seconds/187.919 mph. A quick glance at today's top times:
Session II: NASCAR Busch Series teams in odd positions in car owner standings as of July 8, 2006
What: NASCAR Jackson Hewitt Preseason Thunder testing for the 2007 Orbitz 300
Where: Daytona International Speedway
Track Layout: 2.5-mile tri-oval.
When: Sunday, Tuesday, Jan. 23
Times: 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Who: J.J. Yeley, Regan Smith, Erik Darnell, Mike Wallace, Bill Elliott, Sam Hornish Jr., Peter Shepherd, Chad Blount, Carlos Contreras, Brad Keselowski, Casey Mears, David Gilliland, Ward Burton, Scott Wimmer, Timothy Peters, Ron Hornaday Jr., Jeff Fuller, Bobby Hamilton Jr., Reed Sorenson, Kyle Krisiloff, Jon Wood, Carl Edwards, Bobby Labonte, Justin Diercks.