Ed­wards look­ing for­ward to race af­ter week of dis­trac­tions

Af­ter ques­tion­able miss­ing lid, Ed­wards ready to race

The Covington News - - Sports - By Mike Har­ris

HAMP­TON — There are no dis­trac­tions for Carl Ed­wards inside his race car.

But that’s the only place he’s been at peace since NASCAR of­fi­cials dis­cov­ered the lid from the oil tank on his No. 99 Roush Fen­way Rac­ing Ford was miss­ing af­ter his vic­tory last Sun­day at Las Ve­gas Mo­tor Speed­way.

That was the sec­ond straight vic­tory for Ed­wards and it should have been a time to talk about be­ing in first place in the Sprint Cup stand­ings for the first time in his ca­reer and about the pos­si­bil­i­ties of mak­ing it three in a row in to­day’s Kobalt Tools 500 at At­lanta Mo­tor Speed­way.

In­stead, he has spent most of the week an­swer­ing ques­tions about that miss­ing lid, be­ing docked 100 points — drop­ping him to sev­enth in the stand­ings — and los­ing crew chief Bob Os­borne to a six-week sus­pen­sion.

Ed­wards fig­ures he has been able to han­dle the sit­u­a­tion pretty well.

“I be­lieve the last year or two I’ve been hard­ened a lot,” he said. “The only dis­trac­tion is hav­ing to ... talk about it.

“I have a very sim­ple job and that’s not to make any mis­takes in that race car and go as fast as I can, so that’s what I keep do­ing. I get my joy out of do­ing that job well. So, for me per­son­ally, it’s more of just a nui­sance to have to come over here and talk about this be­cause I know what hap­pened and it re­ally doesn’t mat­ter to me what other peo­ple say about it.”

What other peo­ple, in­clud­ing a lot of com­peti­tors in the NASCAR garage, have been say­ing is that they be­lieve the Roush Fen­way team in­ten­tion­ally let the oil tank lid come off to gain an aero­dy­namic ad­van­tage, es­ti­mated by sev­eral crew chiefs at be­tween 100 and 170 pounds of ad­di­tional down­force.

“It’s fine by me if folks want to get worked up about it,” Ed­wards said. “Then we’ve got ‘em right where we want ‘em. We’re just rac­ing hard.”

Team owner Jack Roush has con­sis­tently de­nied any in­tent to cheat.

“We’re not cul­pa­ble,” Roush said Fri­day. “It was not our in­tent. We did not have the ex­pec­ta­tion that that thing would come off, but ap­par­ently there’s enough cheaters out there that have been play­ing in this area that they know ab­so­lutely for sure how much it’s worth and the fact that there’s an ad­van­tage.

“I sup­port the fact that Carl says he would have won that race with or with­out the panel be­ing loose.”

Roush said he would con­sider ap­peal­ing if his team be­lieves it could get Os­borne’s sus­pen­sion short­ened or dropped. But the owner wasn’t op­ti­mistic.

“The fact is, I’ve ap­pealed (to the Na­tional Stock Car Com­mis­sion) no less than four and prob­a­bly more than six times in the 22 years I’ve been in this busi­ness and I’ve got­ten re­lief ex­actly zero times in spite of the fact that the facts were in my fa­vor many times.”

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