Carl Ed­wards makes no apolo­gies for dou­bling up

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By R.B. Fall­strom

MADI­SON, Ill. — Carl Ed­wards is un­apolo­getic. He sees no rea­son why he shouldn’t com­pete for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and the sport’s sec­ond-tier ti­tle at the same time.

NASCAR has con­sid­ered changes to the Na­tion­wide Se­ries that could af­fect the par­tic­i­pa­tion of Cup driv­ers, who rou­tinely dip down to take vic­to­ries against smaller teams and less-ex­pe­ri­enced driv­ers.

Penske driver Justin All­gaier is the only Na­tion­wide reg­u­lar to win a race in the se­ries this sea­son, at Bris­tol in March. Ev­ery other event has been won by a Cup reg­u­lar.

Ed­wards is 10th in the Sprint Cup stand­ings and sec­ond in the Na­tion­wide points be­hind Brad Ke­selowski, the driver he tangled with in the fi­nal lap of last week’s Dodge Deal­ers 250 be­fore win­ning.

Ed­wards said he be­gan run­ning Na­tion­wide races when he was driv­ing in the truck se­ries, and now con­sid­ers him­self a Na­tion­wide driver go­ing for spon­sor­ship deals in the Cup se­ries.

“I hope NASCAR rec­og­nizes that all of us are rac­ers, and no mat­ter where you come from, this is its own se­ries,” Ed­wards said.

Ed­wards agrees with a sug­ges­tion that Cup driv­ers’ prac­tice time be limited on tracks used by both se­ries. He said about a half hour would be fair.

“Hope­fully I can still race for a cham­pi­onship,” he said, “be­cause that’s what I want to do next year.”

Ed­wards has plenty of com­pany.

Sprint Cup leader Kevin Har­vick ran in both ends of a dou­ble­header last week­end af­ter the truck race was post­poned by a power fail­ure. He eas­ily won the 250-mile truck race, lead­ing for all but 17 of the 160 laps, and was in con­tention in the Na­tion­wide race be­fore scrap­ing the wall late.

“He had a lit­tle bit more time, money and ex­pe­ri­ence in this se­ries. All of the above,” said Ke­selowski, who came up in the Na­tion­wide ranks and is in his first year of a full-time Sprint Cup ride.

Ke­selowski also drove a dou­ble­header. He fin­ished sec­ond in the truck race and ap­peared headed for vic­tory in the Na­tion­wide race be­fore Ed­wards knocked him out of con­trol and into the wall in a wreck that even­tu­ally in­volved 10 cars.

There are 16 races re­main­ing in the Na­tion­wide se­ries, and Ed­wards is the de­fend­ing cham­pion in four of them, in­clud­ing the race in In­di­anapo­lis this week­end. Ke­selowski has three wins in the se­ries and is de­fend­ing cham­pion at four re­main­ing stops, and Kyle Busch is de­fend­ing cham­pion at three races.

Un­fair or not, some younger driv­ers don’t mind.

Rookie Brian Scott, who fin­ished sixth in the Na­tion­wide race last week, ap­pre­ci­ated get­ting schooled by Har­vick and Ke­selowski. Ear­lier this year, he re­called a race where “all the Cup guys just blew by me and taught me a les­son,” and last week he gained in the late go­ing.

“I’m glad the Cup guys come down and race with us, be­cause they’ve sure taught me a lot,” Scott said. “I think it’s start­ing to pay off a lot now.”

Carl Ed­wards wants to com­pete for Sprint Cup, Na­tion­wide ti­tles.

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