Carl Edwards has Come a Long Way on Road Courses

When Carl Edwards first visited Watkins Glen International in 2005, it was for a test session for the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series cars that he ran for Jack Roush Racing. This writer recalls it fondly because I’ll never forget how wide-eyed and excited he was before he went out on the track. It was a rough day for him and he ended up going around the track with road racing specialist, Boris Said, in a rental car.

At Sonoma this year Edwards won the pole and finished in fourth place so a lot has happened since that infamous test. Heading into Watkins Glen Edwards said, “They did a really good job with the repave, all the curving and everything – there are no problem spots. It has yet to be seen how the tire will fall off and how the cars will run together, but the speeds are fast and we didn’t have any trouble. I think we’ll just try to go out here and qualify well and see how the race goes. You guys have seen tons of races here – these things can go any possible way. We really don’t know what to expect yet.”

When asked about how far he has come on road courses Edwards was quick to discuss that first test session here. “So, a little perspective for you guys,” Edwards started. “My first time here, I didn’t even make it a full lap. I backed the 99 (Cup car) car right into the wall coming down the front straightaway.” He then laughed and said, “That was embarrassing. It was really embarrassing later while they were fixing my car I was talking to Casey Mears and shooting the breeze and he said, ‘You see that idiot out in that red and white car back it in the first lap that didn’t have a number on it?’ I was like, ‘Casey, that was me.’

I also crashed the 60 XFINITY car and Brad Parrott was my crew chief and he wouldn’t unload the backup car. He said we’re going to sit for a little while. He’s like, ‘At the current rate we’re going to be going home in about 30 minutes if we unload it.’ I was terrible here and Boris Said helped me a ton. Jack Roush used to have a program when Boris… he would call him to go for a day with young guys like myself who didn’t have any road racing experience. I talked to Glen Rein today and I told him, ‘Hey, here’s what Boris told me,’ and I kind of go through the list of things you have to do. So, yeah, from then to now to be fast here, to be at the top of the chart for a while in practice and have a shot at winning these races is a big accomplishment for me.”

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“I also crashed the 60 XFINITY car and Brad Parrott was my crew chief and he wouldn’t unload the backup car. He said we’re going to sit for a little while. He’s like, ‘At the current rate we’re going to be going home in about 30 minutes if we unload it.’ I was terrible here and Boris Said helped me a ton. Jack Roush used to have a program when Boris… he would call him to go for a day with young guys like myself who didn’t have any road racing experience. I talked to Glen Rein today and I told him, ‘Hey, here’s what Boris told me,’ and I kind of go through the list of things you have to do. So, yeah, from then to now to be fast here, to be at the top of the chart for a while in practice and have a shot at winning these races is a big accomplishment for me.”

On Saturday Edwards went out and won the pole at Watkins Glen International, his first at the infamous road course. When asked if he thought he could win the pole he said, “I wasn’t sure. You know the track is a little strange. It started out really slippery the first run — but, just really proud of my guys and everybody on this Stanley Toyota team. You’ve got to work a little bit in race trim but we’re starting up front and we’ve got a great pit crew and hopefully we can put that Stanley in victory lane.”

Edwards was asked if he was now a road course ringer and he said laughing, “Like I told you, my road course career started pretty rough. There was the backing it into the fence here, there was the brush fire that we started at VIR (Virginia International Raceway), I mean there was a lot of stuff that’s led up to this. But, I’m really proud of doing well at these places just because it really has been a long learning process. So, now I need to put it together and get a win here. Been close here, we’ve run really well and this will be a good start to it. But, yeah if we had one more road course I’m sure, like this year, I think people would say, ‘Oh Carl.’ But, by next year they’ll forget and it will be all over again.”

Today Edwards ran into some trouble on pit road and on lap 58 getting caught up in a wreck in Turn 5 with Clint Bowyer, David Ragan and Alex Kennedy sending him to the back of the pack but in the remaining 30 laps he picked up multiple spots to finish 15th at Watkins Glen. Not the finish that Edwards wanted, but not bad, all things considered.

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