NASCAR At Watkins Glen: Carl Edwards Making First Nationwide Start Of 2012 This Weekend
Carl Edwards will run his first NASCAR Nationwide race of the season on Saturday in hopes of bettering his chances of securing a much-needed win in Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen's storied road course.
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Nascar's Sprint Cup series shifts to Watkins Glen on Sunday for a 90 lap race around the road course at Watkins Glen. Clint Bowyer will start eighth on Sunday after recording a good qualifying time on Saturday. Carl Ewards will start a little further back in the field in the 18th position but has some momentum after winning the Nationwide Race on Saturday.
Here's the starting lineup for today's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen:
1. Juan Pablo Montoya 2. Kyle Busch 3. Jimmie Johnson 4. Brad Keselowski 5. Marcos Ambrose 6. Ryan Newman 7. Tony Stewart 8. Clint Bowyer 9. Martin Truex Jr. 10. Jamie McMurray 11. Michael McDowell 12. Jeff Gordon 13. Regan Smith 14. Joey Logano 15. Greg Biffle 16. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 17. Sam Hornish Jr. 18. Carl Edwards 19. Kevin Harvick 20. Kasey Kahne 21. Scott Speed 22. Paul Menard 23. Denny Hamlin 24. Matt Kenseth 25. Boris Said 26. Bobby Labonte 27. Kurt Busch 28. Jeff Burton 29. Aric Almirola 30. Casey Mears 31. Dave Blaney 32. David Ragan 33. Brian Vickers 34. David Gilliland 35. Landon Cassill 36. Joe Nemechek 37. JJ Yeley 38. Josh Wise 39. Stephen Leicht 40. Mike Bliss 41. Jason Leffler 42. Travis Kvapil 43. Patrick Long
A native of the "Show Me" State, Carl Edwards knows better than anybody that it is at a point in the NASCAR season that he is going to have show everybody what he is capable of, and darn fast, if he expects to get his No. 99 Ford Fusion into the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship for a sixth straight year.
It all comes down to a five-race season for Edwards, and it starts with the road course at Watkins Glen this weekend, where he will do a two-fer, racing in both the Nationwide Series on Saturday and the Sprint Cup Series' Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen on Sunday.
Going fast hasn't been as much a problem for Edwards and his Roush-Fenway race crew this year as finishing. Now in his 11th season of NASCAR racing, and eighth in the Sprint Cup Series, Edwards has not won a race since March of last season, when he won at Las Vegas in the third stop of the 2011 season.
Edwards, who makes his home in Columbia, Mo., has 12 top-10 finishes in the Sprint Cup Series this year, but there also are a number of races in which he has come in the middle of the pack or higher. As an example of the difficulty he has been having this season, in six of his last 11 Cup races, Edwards has finished 20th or higher.
Up until the current season, Edwards was a regular and semi-regular driver for seven seasons in the Nationwide Series (formerly the Busch Series), the developmental series one level down from the Sprint Cup Series. Although his 37 Nationwide wins, including the 2007 championship, are the third most ever, Edwards declared at the beginning of this year that he probably would not run in any Nationwide races in 2012, presumably so he could concentrate fully on Sprint Cup and winning his first championship in that series after runner-up finishes in 2008 and last season.
But with no wins this season, placing him in grave danger, sitting in 12th place in the points standings, of not qualifying for the 10-race season-ending championship series that starts in a little over a month (after five more regular-season races) at Chicagoland Speedway, Edwards and Co. find themselves in serious straits. And of the five venues left before the Chase begins, the 3.4-mile road course at Watkins Glen is one of two racetracks (along with Richmond, to end the regular season) where Edwards has never won.
That does a lot to explain why the Missourian with the famous race-winning backflip, which has been missing for well over a year now, will be in the field for the Zippo 200 Nationwide race on Saturday at The Glen. He's anxious to learn as much as he can in hopes that the extra running time on the racetrack will better prepare him for the main event on Sunday.
Edwards admitted on Friday, as wet weather in the Northeast wiped out much of the scheduled practice time for the weekend races at Watkins Glen, that he has missed running in the Nationwide Series this season.
"I've missed it a little more than I thought I would," Edwards said. "It was nice to go over to the Nationwide garage (on Friday) and see a lot of the guys that I haven't seen for a while.
"We've tried to make the cars (the No. 60 Ford Mustang and his regular No. 99 Ford Fusion Sprint Cup car) as similar as we can, so that I can carry over anything we learn," he said. "Maybe (Saturday's) race will be a good time to try any race-line type of things I can use for Sunday. So I've got an idea of what I want to do to be the best I can be there on Sunday, and hopefully it all comes together."
Edwards said this doesn't necessarily mean he will run in any more Nationwide races this season, but he clearly is leaving the door open on the possibility.
"We'll see how this goes, and we'll see what Ford and (team owner) Jack (Roush) and everyone is up for, but if this goes well and if it's fun, I think there might be more in the future," Edwards said.
Because of Friday's rainout, qualifying for the Nationwide Zippo 200 will be held Saturday morning, followed by qualifying for Sunday's Sprint Cup race. The Zippo 200 will start at 1:15 CT Saturday afternoon, weather permitting.
Follow NASCAR, and news and commentary on local drivers Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer, all season long at SB Nation Kansas City.
Columbia, Mo., native Edwards has elected to run in both the Zippo 200 Nationwide race on Saturday and the Sprint Cup Series Finger Lakes 350 on Sunday. During Saturday's Nationwide race, Edwards will provide in-race reporting for the ESPN broadcast team providing coverage of the race.
This will be Edwards' first Nationwide Series race of the season. He won the Nationwide championship in 2007, and has 37 wins, tied for the third most all time, in 229 starts in the series. Edwards will drive the No. 60 Ford Mustang owned by Roush-Fenway Racing in the Nationwide race, and will be back in his regular seat in the No. 99 Roush-Fenway Ford Fusion for the Finger Lakes 350 Sprint Cup competition on Sunday.
Bowyer, from Emporia, Kan., will have an on-board microphone in Sunday's Sprint Cup race and will be available during cautions for live chats with the broadcast team. The Kansas native drives the No. 15 Toyota Camry for Michael Watrip Racing.