Tag:Carl Edwards
Posted on: November 22, 2011 5:58 pm
 

Roush Fenway announces major layoffs

By Pete Pistone

Roush Fenway Racing will scale back its operation in 2012 and as a by product layoff more than 100 employees

The team plans to run three Sprint Cup Series entries next season with the No. 6 Ford, driven this year by David Ragan, being shuttered due to the lack of sponsorship.

The Nationwide Series championship team will also dial down its involvement in NASCAR's number two division from three full time rides to one car on the entire tour and another running a partial schedule.

RFR spokesman Kevin Woods did confirm layoffs will take place but did not place a number on the number of people who will lose jobs as a result of the decisions.

“We’ll have probably three Cup teams and one and one-half Nationwide teams next season,” Woods said. “Do the math. We had to right-size the organization to get to that number.

“It’s an ongoing process that’s not complete.”
 
While Roush has full funding for Carl Edwards' No. 99 entry as well as the No. 16 Ford driven by Greg Biffle, the organization does not have complete sponsorship sold for the No. 17 ride of Matt Kenseth.

 
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Posted on: November 20, 2011 10:34 pm
Edited on: November 20, 2011 10:47 pm
 

Carl Edwards: I drove it to the edge and beyond

Posted by Pete Pistone

KERRY THARP: 
Carl, terrific season, terrific effort tonight.  I'm just going to throw it over to you.  Talk about your race out there tonight and the effort.

CARL EDWARDS:  Well, the effort was all season.  We finished the last two races of last season very strong and we believed in what we were capable of this year.  And I think we proved to ourselves that even with adversity and the things that we faced throughout the Chase, the bad runs that we had, and the mistakes that we made and recovered from, that we can compete for these championships.

And you know, I guess the only thing I'm able to take away from this that's really positive is something I think's really important is that at least we know that we can compete with any of these people.  We can compete with a two-time champion or three-time champion now winning half of the Chase races; we can still score as many points as them.  That's a big deal.

And I know that there are a lot of tests in life and I think that the last three or four weeks have been a huge test for me and for my team mentally.  You know, for us to keep our confidence up, to keep our cool, and to go out and perform and do our jobs, I'm really proud and believe next year we'll do even better.

Q.  Can you even begin to describe your thoughts those last 15, 20 laps, and it got down to 12,11 you and started to see that you just were not catching him?

CARL EDWARDS:  I tell you, for me, I thought back to a lesson that I was reminded of at Iowa, second race with Ricky Stenhouse and that was to never, ever, give up, period, ever.  I was fully prepared for Tony to run out of fuel, for him to have a tire problem, for anything to happen, for a caution to come out and have a restart.  That's all I can do is to be as prepared as I can be.

I didn't really let myself think about the consequences of what was going on.  I just had to go drive the hardest I could, and I did.  I mean, that's -- I drove it to the edge and beyond, and that's all I had.

Q.  I can't help but watching you, thinking that you will spend the rest of the off-season thinking about what you have to do, where you lost that edge and what you can do to come back and just be even better than you are right now.  Is that pretty accurate?

CARL EDWARDS:  Yes.  Here's the deal.  Whether we won tonight or we lost, I mean, tomorrow is the start of the next season.  I was prepared before this race began to do exactly what I'm going to go do and that's to be even better next year and to apply what I've learned here.

We knew we could come into this thing and we knew that of all of the circumstances that could happen, this one was the least probable.  I mean, for us to finish like that, tied, fighting for the win.  That is the least probable outcome.

And so I was prepared for anything.  I knew that this was a possibility, though, and I was prepared for this.  And I told myself, I told my family that the one thing I'm going to do is I'm going to walk back to that most home, win, lose or draw and I'm going to be a good example for my kids and work hard and go be better next season.  Because, you know, we talked about it before the race, even if we won this thing, you go halfway through next season you and struggle, that's quickly forgotten.

As painful as this is right now, I know that we have -- we are fortunate to have the opportunity to go to Daytona and just start all over again and go race.

Q.  Can you share with us what you said to Bob Osborne when you got out of the car and shook hands?

CARL EDWARDS:  I just wanted to make sure that Bob knew that I believe he's the best crew chief here, and that he will be my crew chief for as long as he wants to be, and I'm behind him and his decision 100%.

As tough as it is for me, you know, it's tougher, I think, for those guys, the guys that prepare these cars and determine which things we are going to work on throughout the year and what strategies we are going to use.  They make some very, very big decisions that they can't turn around -- inaudible -- is great or greater than mine.

Q.  Obviously you're in the moment now and there's disappointment, but this race obviously generated a tremendous amount of interest, you could see on the Internet and on Twitter.  Can you take a second to step back and maybe just think about the whole drama of it; has there been something comparable that you've been involved with in your career?

CARL EDWARDS:  No.  I wish I could do this every day.  There are lessons that I learned and things that I learned about myself, about competition, about failure and things about success; things that I could not have learned any other way.  If there weren't any pressure, there weren't be any diamonds, that's what my trainer says.

We dealt with a lot of pressure and I feel very proud of the way our team and myself and everyone has handled everything through this, and I feel that we made it all the way through, and although we didn't come out with the outcome that we wanted, that we are better because of it, you know, and I'm not trying to be philosophical or anything.

I'm truly telling you, if I'm in this position next year, I'm going to be better at it.  I'm going to be -- I'll be better.  So that's cool.  That's something you don't get every day is a lesson like this.

Q.  Before tonight, did you kind of prepare yourself for the fact that it very well could end up where it did, and the fact that you are still -- you're not nearly to the end of your career, and you've proven you're championship-caliber.  Did you prepare yourself for that?  And how did you deal with all of the trash talking that Tony was doing?  Now that it's over -- how did you really deal with that?

CARL EDWARDS:  It's easy.  You just have to -- I talked to you guys one time, I said there's Kipling's poem I can't remember the title of it, but when he said, 'You have to meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same.'  That's the truth.

There's nothing saying that this loss here tonight won't spur a chain of events that could lead to some serious success in the future, and you guys are looking at someone who is not going to miss out on that.

I'm very aware that time is a funny thing.  You can't go back and change anything but you can sure as hell change what's going to happen and I will be better and I will do a good job.

Yes, to answer your question, I was prepared for this.  I thought a lot about this.  Like I said earlier, I feel like we kind of -- I feel like personally, I passed the test.  I didn't fall into the trap of the trash talking and the -- I didn't change the person I am to go compete at my highest level.  I felt like I did it my way, and I'm proud of that.

Q.  And what's it like to be part of that, everywhere you turn, he's there and everywhere he turns, you're there.

CARL EDWARDS:  Like I said earlier, I think it's been a true test.  It's been a battle.  As best I can, right now, if I step back, away from this, and look at it, and I say, okay, here are two guys, one of which has a lot more experience in these situations than the other.  Won half of the races in the Chase.  And the other guy, I mean, stood his ground, did a darned good job of forcing these guys to perform their best.

I'm proud of that.  And I think that what you just said, the fact that it was that way, that it just turned into this, you know, man-to-man battle, that was very interesting.  That's something that you don't see in this sport.  It shouldn't happen.  It only, I believe, happened because subconsciously everybody on these teams just raised their level of performance.

And to be honest with you, I was very, very impressed with Tony.  I think that for all of the talk and all of the chest-pounding that he did, I could see that he was really -- I mean, he was nervous about this, too.  I mean, they had to perform at a very high level, and I honestly thought that there was a good chance tonight of them making a mistake; of him over-driving, trying too hard, and they showed a lot of mental toughness to watch us go lead the first half of this race essentially and not panic, not make mistakes.  I thought they did a really good job.

Q.  Yet it comes down to a tiebreaker, I mean, how does that -- how do you go to sleep with that tonight knowing you were tied?

CARL EDWARDS:  I would compete with him in just about anything else to break that tie, if we could set up something -- (Laughter).  But yeah, that's pretty amazing.

I'm telling you guys, this is not -- I'm not just saying this because I didn't win the thing.  But I think we could run this race ten times and it would -- it's a 50/50 deal.  A little different pit stop, a little different restart here; you know, ten pounds of spring somewhere on this car, the race could have been a lot different -- not a lot different but the roles could have been reversed.  I think it's just amazing.

I'm sure there will be people that will say, this was fake, this was set up, because it's just so unbelievable.  I mean, it's like a movie, you know.

Q.  The difference tonight, was it this race?  Was it a whole season?  Where was the difference, when you look back, how will you look back in a tie-point situation?  And also, you seem to be putting on as good a face as possible.  Is this how you feel or is there --

CARL EDWARDS:  I'm telling you guys, this is how I feel.  This is how I feel, I'm not BS'ing you, this is me.  I'm not going to go rip the door off my motor home or freak out or anything.  I'm going to go hang out with my family and we'll go to the beach tomorrow and go celebrate Ricky's championship.

But I think it's important to look back and come up with things -- you know, look at things you could do differently to really analyze everything and to see where you did things wrong, you did things right.

My true feeling right now, my real -- like my gut feeling in my heart, is that I'm just -- I'm obviously disappointed we didn't win.  That would have been a spectacular result, okay.  But I'm very proud, some of the best races I've run in my life, were this Chase.  Kansas was unbelievable.  Martinsville, I've never used my head as much as I did at Martinsville.  I've never been able to put down my frustration like I did at Dover.

If I look back on this Chase, there's not one thing that I say, man, I wish I'd have done this or I wish I'd have done that.  This whole season has gone very well.  I'm truly proud of this season.

I mean, but it's over.

Q.  Carl, you're talking about your feelings right now and the momentum that you're actually carrying over.  How does that affect your off-season?  You're already ready for next season, but talk a little about your off-season.

CARL EDWARDS:  Well, this disappointment tonight, it won't affect us for next season.  That's something that you have to do as a competitor, especially at this level.  You have to realize that effort --

Q.  Even if you lost, I'm still trying to figure out, what was going on and how in the world -- how did he get ahead of you.

CARL EDWARDS:  Well, what they did was they stayed out, and I think they almost ran out of fuel.  They pitted -- they did a really good job staying down on the lead.  But they pitted for four tires.  The rain came, and caution was, you know, came out and we only had a couple laps on our tires, so we came in and -- came in really hard.

If they for some reason shortened the race, we would have won it that way.  And then that's the box we were in, so we reached that -- and I don't know if that would have made the difference or not.  But he would probably do the same thing -- we would just -- -- but it doesn't appear so.  If we had to do it over again, we would probably do the same thing.  We would just hope that that rain didn't come, and then we would get another caution.

Q.  Inaudible.

CARL EDWARDS:  I was and it seems that they were just going to try to make it on that stop and save fuel, which is pretty risky, I thought.  I really thought that for a second, I thought that -- just take it easy on the engine, but we didn't have any trick engine stuff or anything that I was aware and nobody told me about it so I wasn't too worried.

Q.  I know that early in the race, you were more focused on what you were doing, Tony gets a big hole knocked in the grill, the front of his car, sends him to the back --

CARL EDWARDS:  I think that's why the fans saw such a good race because this track allows to you do that.  If you have a fast car you and do your job and you drive hard, you can pass people here.  The fans got to see that, and then, you know, that was just a good job.  They did a really good job of recovering from that stuff.

Q.  Congratulations on an amazing season.

CARL EDWARDS:  Congrats on keeping the mustache all week.  Appreciate that.  That's good.  (Laughter) I like it.

Q.  Until the end of the month.  And not sort of add insult to injury, but a 4.9 average is what you posted in the Chase and that would be good enough to win every single Chase, but this one.  Could I just get your thoughts on that?

CARL EDWARDS:  We performed very well.  I feel like over the whole season, we performed really well.  I don't know if anyone scored more points in the whole season than we did.  I'm not sure about that or not.  There's a lot of pride or not.  We did that in 2008, and I think we did that now -- does anybody now, does that seem accurate or not?  I mean, we just performed the best we can.  Every week, we put out the best effort we can, and we were one point shy.  So I mean, that's just the way it is.

Q.  The historical significance of this race, I don't think there's ever going to be another championship that comes down to tie, what does that mean to you, and I know you came out on the short end of it.  I literally was jumping up-and-down because it was just that exciting.  What does that mean to you?

CARL EDWARDS:  It's neat.  It's neat to be a part of something like that.  It's not neat to lose, but like I said earlier, that's a position that -- I can't think of another thing I can go do that would be, that, would capture my attention and my focus and my effort like this has.

So it's neat to be a part of something like that.  I think it's good to be a part of things like this.  And I think in the end, it's just making me a better racer, a better person, able to deal with stuff like this.  It's amazing.

Q.  I don't know if you know the answer to this question, but just curious, how do you think Bob will handle this?

CARL EDWARDS:  I think Bob will handle it well.  Bob is a very, very mentally tough person, mentally tough.  He's hard on himself.  He'll figure out things that he can do better.  But that's one of the neat things about Bob, he just keeps his head down and he works.  So I think this is -- this will be good.

I think we'll just come up with things that we can do to be better, but I mean, really, we all just rose our level of performance.  We raised it to -- we rose to the occasion, and that was -- I truly don't think we could have done much better in this Chase with, like I said, the circumstances that we had and the way things went.  I was very proud of every point we gathered through the whole thing.

KERRY THARP:  Certainly one of the classiest acts we've ever seen in sports.  Congratulations on a terrific, terrific season, and all the best to you and your family over the holidays.

CARL EDWARDS:  Thank you guys, very much.  I appreciate the hard work and I know you guys are going through a lot of struggles, too.  Hopefully this race and this excitement helps with the whole sport but I really appreciate everything you guys have done for us, and I hope you have happy holidays.  Thanks.

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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: November 20, 2011 9:43 pm
Edited on: November 20, 2011 10:27 pm
 

Speed Read: Homestead

By Pete Pistone


COMPLETE FORD 400 RESULTS

HOMESTEAD, Fla. - NASCAR's been around for more than 60 years but it's never been better than Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The Ford 400 season finale was exactly the elusive "Game 7" the sport had been searching for and so much more.

Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards waged a championship battle like never before and might never be matched again, with a tiebreaker necessary to determine the title a first for NASCAR.

And they did it in the best way possible, going head to head with one another over the course of a dramatic 400 miles around the mile-and-a-half South Florida oval.

Like two heavyweight boxers, Stewart and Edwards traded body blows with one another swapping the point lead, maneuvering their way in and around traffic and then finally racing against each other for the checkered flag and the crown.

It was exactly what the week-long hype had promised and the duo delivered.

But even the combatants couldn't believe what transpired after they had time to reflect on what they'd both been through.

"I would compete with him in just about anything else to break that tie, if we could set up something," Edwards cracked when asked how it felt to have his entire season come down to a tiebreaker.

"But yeah, that's pretty amazing. I'm telling you guys, this is not -- I'm not just saying this because I didn't win the thing.  But I think we could run this race ten times and it would -- it's a 50/50 deal.  A little different pit stop, a little different restart here; you know, ten pounds of spring somewhere on this car, the race could have been a lot different -- not a lot different but the roles could have been reversed.  I think it's just amazing."

While Stewart came out the victor ,even he had a hard time completely grasping the events of the night.

"We were confident coming in and didn't get down when we had trouble early," he said referring to damage that knocked a hole in the front end of Stewart's grille early in the race. "But you just never know what can happen out there and even though the car was fast, we had good strategy and I truly felt we could pull this deal off, until that checkered flag flew it's impossible to know how it's going to end."

After Stewart finally delivered the knockout blow, Edwards was left to ponder what might have been and how his ultimate disappointment might ultimately impact him going forward.

"It's been a battle," Edwards said as he tried to size up the experience.  "As best I can, right now, if I step back, away from this, and look at it, and I say, okay, here are two guys, one of which has a lot more experience in these situations than the other.  Won half of the races in the Chase.  And the other guy, I mean, stood his ground, did a darned good job of forcing these guys to perform their best.

"I'm proud of that.  And I think that what you just said, the fact that it was that way, that it just turned into this, you know, man-to-man battle, that was very interesting.  That's something that you don't see in this sport.  It shouldn't happen.  It only, I believe, happened because subconsciously everybody on these teams just raised their level of performance."

The NASCAR season was raised to an off the chart level on Sunday that will be hard to top any time soon.

Risers

Martin Truex Jr. - He's the anchor of the newly-retooled Michael Waltrip Racing team and ended the season with a solid outing and a third place finish. Truex Jr. will be under the spotlight next year as MWR moves to its next level of operation and goes into the off-season with much-needed confidence.

Kasey Kahne - His impressive one year stay at Team Red Bull came to a close with yet another top ten finish in the Chase. Kahne's events place finish was the final calling card for team GM Jay Frye to bring in new investors to keep the organization on track next season.

Jeff Burton - There are reportedly some big changes on the horizon at Richard Childress Racing but Burton most likely would want to keep things status quo after the way he's ended the 2011 season. The veteran driver once again showed there's more in the tank with a solid tenth place finish on Sunday.


Fallers

Kurt Busch - His dismal Chase ended only two laps into the season finale when Busch slammed the wall and was out of contention before the fans got settled into their seats. Busch had a transmission failure and as expected let his team know about his displeasure on the radio. Speculation that crew chief Steve Addington won't have to listen to Busch's tirades any longer picked up steam over the weekend with a new home at Stewart-Haas Racing reportedly awaiting him for 2012.

David Ragan - In what could be his last Sprint Cup race for a while Ragan appears to have been the sacrificial lamb of Roush Fenway Racing when his R&D engine expire before the 100 lap mark. With RFR scaling back to three cars next year due to lack of sponsorship, Ragan is looking for work and may wind up in either the Nationwide Series or the Camping World Truck Series in 2012.

Jimmie Johnson - He ended his championship reign with a whimper as Johnson left Homestead with a 32nd place finish after spinning out in turn three. While it was inevitable that Johnson's amazing run would come to a close, it was still surprising how uncompetitive he was in this Chase after some early success. There are rumors of a potential shake up at Hendrick Motorsports including speculation of crew chief Chad Knaus moving into a different position within the company but it would be a major shock if Johnson and company didn't return fully intact to try and start another title streak next season.


RADIO WAVES  

(Choice comments and communications from drivers and crew chiefs)  

"They're going to feel like sh-- when we kick their a after this (damage)." - Tony Stewart after his initial trip to pit road for repairs

"They're REALL going to feel worse now after we win from the back twice." - Stewart after a second trip to pit road for a hung lug nut

"A little R&D and we just got the short end of this draw." - David Ragan after his fourth blown engine of the year sent him out of the race

"Motion the 22 driver to get it first gear and stop going at a grandma's pace!" - NASCAR official referring to Kurt Busch missing from grid when rain delay ended

"He's running into us, blocking us, effecting outcome of the race." - Carl Edwards on Kevin Harvick

Race Rating

On a scale of one to five "Pistone Pistons" I’ll give Sunday’s Ford 400 a five but I'm actually lobbying the bosses for an extra piston or two. Sunday's race wasn't just the best race of the season it was in the top five of NASCAR's all-time bests, which dates back more than 60 years. The epic championship battle between Stewart and Edwards came inside a race that regularly featured four and five wide racing and enough twists and turns for a full year. Sports don't get much better than what was on display Sunday night in Homestead and NASCAR as a whole can be very proud of the way the 2011 season came to a close.

Down the Road

The longest season in professional sports finally took the last checkered flag of the season and Sprint Cup 2011 is in the books. It will be remembered for a lot of things including competitiveness, first time winners, incredible points races and yes even some controversy.  Jimmie Johnson's title reign is over and Tony Stewart is the driver to do it. Although cars won't be in competition for the next two and a half months, the off season will be anything but quiet or dull. Expect news and some surprises before Speedweeks rolls around in February to officially begin the 2012 NASCAR season.

For more NASCAR news, rumors and analysis, follow @PPistone on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 


 
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Posted on: November 19, 2011 4:12 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2011 4:35 pm
 

Advantage Edwards - takes Homestead pole

By Pete Pistone

FORD 400 STARTING LINEUP

HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Carl Edwards made a bold statement on Saturday by winning the pole for the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The Chase for the Sprint Cup point leader will lead the field to the green in Sunday's season finale while championship competitor Tony Stewart starts fifteenth.

"This doesn't dampen the amount of effort we're going to put forth we're still going to go out there and race our race," said Edwards. "This is going really well so far and hopefully this helps us in the hole race."

Edwards has a three point advantage over Stewart coming into the finale and has an excellent shot at gaining a lucrative bonus point early on Sunday with his premium starting spot.

It was Edwards's tenth career Sprint Cup pole and third this season. The two-time Homestead winner scored his second pole at the 1.5-mile track.

But Stewart is not overly concerned about his title counterpart's qualifying success or his starting his position.

"Don't start etching his name on the trophy yet,'' Stewart said. (Edwards) put up a fast lap. His lap times fell off when he did a long run. Ours don't fall of as hard as his."

Stewart, who has carried a laid back attitude with him throughout the week including some good natured ribbing of Edwards, said he's had a lot of fun trading quips.

"I was kinda having fun talking with him. He's kind of an easy target," Stewart said. "It's like bringing a knife to a gun fight."

Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five.

Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin completed the top ten qualifiers.

Sunday's Ford 400 is slated for a 3:15 p.m. ET green flag.

 
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Posted on: November 19, 2011 12:56 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2011 1:05 pm
 

Homestead Happy Hour to Edwards

By Pete Pistone

FORD 400 FINAL PRACTICE

HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Carl Edwards added some confidence to his quest for a Sprint Cup title by leading Saturday's final practice session at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Edwards turned a lap of 171.124 mph to pace the last practice before Saturday afternoon's qualifying session.

His championship contending opponent Tony Stewart struggled with onyl the 28th best time of the session.

David Ragan, Cole Whitte, A.J. Allmendinger and Landon Cassill rounded out the top five.

Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard, Dave Blaney and Brad Keselowski completed the fastest ten drivers.

Qualifying to set the field for Ford 400 is set for 2:40 p.m. ET.

 
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Posted on: November 19, 2011 11:13 am
Edited on: November 19, 2011 1:01 pm
 

Earnhardt Jr. leads practice, Edwards second

By Pete Pistone


FORD 400 PRACTICE ONE


HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Dale Earnhardt Jr. paced the field in Saturday's opening Sprint Cup Series practice session at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

After rain washed out Friday's planned activities, Saturday morning was the first time Cup cars were able to get on track in preaparation for Sunday's Ford 400 season finale.

Earnhardt turned a lap of 173.193 mph to lead the way with Sprint Cup point leader second quick.

Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson were the top five.

Kasey Kahne, Landon Cassill, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Juan Pablo Montoya rouned out the first ten.

Tony Stewart, who trails Edwards by three points in the standings, was fifteenth quick.

A second practice is slated for later this morning with qualifying set this afternoon.

 
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Posted on: November 18, 2011 12:52 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 1:00 pm
 

Race preview: Homestead

By Pete Pistone



Ford 400 Preview


HOMESTEAD, Fla. - The Chase for the Sprint Cup championship comes to a crescendo Sunday with the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with the closest points race in the history of the format.

Carl Edwards leads Tony Stewart by only three points and NASCAR has the "Game 7" moment it had hoped for when the season began.

Over the course of the nine races run so far in the title season each driver has given several examples of why they'll win the championship in 2011.

Edwards has been nearly a model of consistency since the first green flag of the season while Stewart started slow and turned up the heat once the playoffs started to ride a wave of momentum toward the top of the standings.

Both drivers are comfortable with the approach they've taken to put themselves in position to take the crown.

"We haven't won one. Tony has won four of these in the Chase. There's different approaches you can take to it," explained Edwards.

"To be clear, we've not gone out and said, Hey, we're not going to try to win this race, we're going to cruise along. We've done our very best. For us, that's one of the things I've most proud of. We've performed very well even on the days when things didn't stack up in our favor. We had some pretty big hills we had to climb. I feel whatever points system you've got, over time you're going to have close battles, you're going to have some that aren't so close. I think all of us are fortunate that it's close this year, it's exciting. It's fun to be a part of something like this."

Stewart concurs with his combatant about working under the system in place and has no problem with the fact he has more victories than Edwards but yet trails in the standings.

"How can their points system be good if the guy that's won four races is behind a guy that hasn't won any races,?" Stewart asked. The points system is good. It's easy to look at that and say that it's not good because of that fact. But what you got to understand is that, unlike other sports where it's two teams against each other, it's 43 teams, it's a 10-race Chase. You accumulate points for 10 races.

"The fact we've won four races doesn't mean we should be ahead of Carl. We did not do our job in some of the other races. That got us behind. Because of the new system, having the bonus points for winning, we were able to catch up and gain those points back. I think it's proven to be a pretty good system so far. You have two guys within three points of each other going into the last race. I don't know how you can say it's bad."

All of the warm-up has set the table for what could possibly be a winner take all scenario in Sunday's race. The strategy for both drivers is pretty simple, rather than having to figure out how many positions they'll need to finish ahead of the other to take home the title.

Take the checkered flag and no matter what the other does the Sprint Cup trophy is his.

"It's an awesome position to be in," said Stewart. "Three points really isn't a deficit at this point. We go out and win the race, it doesn't matter what they do on their side, we still control our own destiny.
We have absolutely got nothing to lose and everything to gain. That makes us a dangerous combination for the weekend."

Edwards also feels very good about his chances this weekend and is doing his best to block out as much pressure as possible.

"This is what I've prepared my whole racing life to do," said Edwards. "To win a Sprint Cup championship is the ultimate goal and I'm in the best position to accomplish that. I can't wait."

Let the games begin.



Homestead-Miami Speedway

Track Size: 1.5-mile

Race Length: 267 laps/400.5 miles

Banking/Corners: 18 - 20 degrees

Banking/Straights: 4 degrees

Frontstretch: 1,760 feet

Backstretch: 1,760 feet



Qualifying/Race Data

2010 pole winner: Kasey Kahne (176.904 mph, 30.525 seconds)

2010 race winner: Carl Edwards (126.585 mph, 11-21-10)

Track qualifying record: Jamie McMurray (181.111 mph, 29.816 seconds, 11-16-03)

Track race record: Tony Stewart (140.335 mph, 11-14-99)


Race Facts

Since the inception of the position-based points system in 1975, only three drivers have made up a points deficit in the season finale: Richard Petty in 1979 (made up two points on Darrell Waltrip), Alan Kulwicki in 1992 (made up 30 points on Davey Allison) and Jimmie Johnson in 2010 (made up 15 points on Denny Hamlin).

There have been 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Homestead, one per season since 1999.

Five drivers have competed in all 12 races: Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte, Elliott Sadler and Tony Stewart.

David Green won the first pole, in 1999.

Tony Stewart won the inaugural race, in 1999.

There have been nine different pole winners. Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson lead all drivers, with two.

There have been eight different race winners, led by Greg Biffle, with three.

Jack Roush has won seven races, most among owners.

The race has been won from the pole twice: Bill Elliott (2001) and Kurt Busch (2002).

The race has been won from a top-10 starting position in nine of 12 races.

Denny Hamlin won in 2009 from the 38th starting position, the furthest back a race winner has started.

Three active drivers have averaged a top-10 finish: Carl Edwards (5.7), Kevin Harvick (7.9) and A.J. Allmendinger (8.7).


Who’s Hot at Homestead

Carl Edwards – Carries a three point lead in the standings into one of his best race tracks and in fact a place where the entire Roush Fenway Racing team and Ford has prospered in recent years. Edwards has won two of the last three races at Homestead and has been very strong at other mile-and-a-half tracks during the Chase providing tremendous confidence in his quest for a first career Sprint Cup championship.

Tony Stewart – He's a two-time Homestead winner but those came back on the track's old flat layout. But Stewart brings a boatload of momentum into the season finale and has carried a swagger throughout the Chase that shows no signs of slowing down in his run for a third title. Stewart's win at Texas should be beneficial to his effort on Sunday but more than anything he may have the advantage in the intangible department.

Kevin Harvick – Comes to Homestead this year not in the thick of the championship race as he was last year but in perfect position to pay the spoiler role. Harvick has performed exceptionally well at Homestead in recent outings including three straight finishes of second or third. He has compiled an average finish of 7.9 in ten career starts, third best on the active list.


Who’s Not

Juan Pablo Montoya – It's a home game for the Miami resident but Homestead hasn't been a happy home for Montoya in the NASCAR career. He has an average finish of 27.8 in five starts including a dismal 35th in last year's race.

Kyle Busch – Would like nothing better than a good finish this weekend to go into the off-season on a positive note and begin to put the tumultuous last several weeks in the rear view mirror. But will have his work cut out for him to do that at Homestead where he's struggled in the Sprint Cup Series. Busch has only top ten finish in six career starts that saw a 32nd place run end his 2010 campaign.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Homestead has vexed Earnhardt since he moved into the Sprint Cup Series. Eleven starts have generated a 24.2 average finish. Junior still has a shot at being the highest finishing Hendrick driver in the Cup Series but will have to turnaround his dismal performance record at HMS to do so.



Notebook

Groundbreaking for Homestead-Miami Dade Motorsports Complex – as the track was originally named – began Aug. 24, 1993. The first race was a NASCAR Nationwide Series event on Nov. 5, 1995.

The original configuration was a four-turn, rectangular oval based on Indianapolis Motor Speedway's layout.

The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Homestead was held on Nov. 14, 1999.

2002 was the first season of the Championship Weekend at Homestead, with all three of NASCAR’s national series holding their season finale at the same track.

There have been 167 NASCAR Sprint Cup races in Florida.

165 drivers in NASCAR’s three national series have their home state recorded as Florida.

There have been 10 race winners from Florida in NASCAR’s three national series.

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Posted on: November 17, 2011 4:21 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 9:04 pm
 

Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart trade barbs and quips

By Pete Pistone

MIAMI -- If the Sprint Cup championship were decided by Thursday's Champion's Press Conference, Tony Stewart would have been the winner in a fourth-round knockout.

Stewart and Carl Edwards traded barbs and wisecracks during a spirited media session as a prelude to their battle for the series title in Sunday's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

While Edwards has a three-point lead over Stewart heading into the final race of the season, you'd never know it from Thursday's at time hilarious press gathering.


"We're not trying to overcome a big deficit," said a confident and laid back Stewart. "We're right there right behind him. For us, like I said, we can finish 43rd this weekend and not be any worse off than we are right now, so we don't have anything to lose. We can throw everything we got at it. If we make a mistake doing it, it doesn't cost anything. There's no penalty for us screwing up."

Not to be outdone, Edwards countered by saying he's also feeling confident about his chances Sunday and that he's doing a good job to keep the pressure at bay.

"I don't really have any nerves," he said. "We've been running well, earned our spot at the top of the standings. I'm excited to have this opportunity to go out and win this championship. We couldn't feel better about the racetrack. We feel really good about the race.

"It's pretty fun. I'm enjoying it. I'm just looking forward to going out there and racing the car."

Throughout this championship battle the two drivers have shown great restraint from getting involved in a war of words or mind games with one another. Mutual respect for one another has been the key message point delivered from both, including after their finishes of second and third last week in Phoenix to set up this week's three-point fight for the crown.

But things broke lose on Thursday much to the delight of both competitors as well as the press corps on hand to cover the event.

When Stewart was asked if "Boys Have at It" might play into deciding the outcome of Sunday's race if he and Edwards were battling for the win he didn't hesitate to answer.

“I’d wreck my mom to win a championship. I’d wreck your mom [the reporter who asked the question] to win a championship," he said. "I respect [Edwards] as a driver, but this isn’t about friendships this weekend. This is war. This is battle. This is for a national championship. It’s no-holds barred this weekend. I didn’t come this far to be one step away from it and let it slip away, so we’re going to go for it."

Edwards sat back while Stewart talked about his previous two titles and how that experience may help his cause in this year's quest for the championship. He finally paused and replied with this gem:

"That the funny thing. I’ve listened to you talk a lot today," Edwards said. "You’ve talked a lot about your past successes. That is very respectable. And truly, all joking aside, that will make it more fun if we’re able to beat you, it will make me more proud."

Undaunted, Stewart didn't hesitate to retaliate.

"It’s like Kid Rock said: 'It’s not cocky if you can back it up,'" he said. "I think we’ve been backing it up the last three weeks."

Hopefully the racing will be as entertaining as Thursday's warmup.

 
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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com