Carl Edwards, who came within a tie-breaker of winning the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship is having a somewhat quiet 2012 season in his No. 99 Roush Fenway Ford Fusion.
Prior to qualifying for Saturday night's Capital City 400 on the 3/4-mile Richmond International Raceway short oval track, Edwards talked about his expectations coming into this race, on a track where he has three top-five and seven top-10 results in 15 career starts.
"We ran top-five in both races last year on this track. The first time I came here in Cup car (2005) we ran great and it was a blast. We had a super fast car and I finished sixth and thought, 'Man this is going to be my favorite race track,'" Edwards said.
Of course he'd like to end Saturday night's contest with a win "and get up there in the points where our teammates are. At this point, there's no better place for us to be than Richmond. Practice went well (he was second) and we were really fast in race trim. I think it is going to be a good race."
There haven't been a lot of wrecks or cautions this year in Sprint Cup (so far, anyway) and some watchers have weighed in that races are a bit more boring without them. Edwards would have to disagree. "I am more of a fan of what goes on on the race track during the competition. I think that cautions and wrecks and all of those things are for me," he said. "Are we going to let the races play out naturally and be the competitions that they are? I think that's the best thing."
He, like so many doesn't want to see the series try to fit the races to match anyone's complaints. "Just let them play out naturally and you will get those really great moments," Edwards said.
In qualifying Friday afternoon, after running second in practice Edwards did the same thing as drivers fought for grid positions. He ended up second to Mark Martin and will start outside the front row in a Ford EcoBoost Fusion bearing his traditional No. 99.
“We haven’t been very good in qualifying for about the last month and Jack (Roush) said he has quit giving me advice because he thought that was part of it. But he hasn’t said anything in about a month and I asked if he had any advice and he said, ‘No sir, I am not saying anything.’ But he is happy. We are happy," Edwards said.
"That is a good lap and we have Ford EcoBoost on the car which is a great product and hopefully this is a top-five or six starting spot. We have a better race trim package than we do a qualifying trim package so I am excited about that.”
It was a very close margin between first and second in qualifying but Edwards feels good about his starting position and glad Martin is 53 years old and not 35: "it is good for us to be on the front row. If you can't be first you better be second," he said. "It is a good starting spot for us. Man, that was dramatic for me to watch him run that first lap and be that close and then watch the tracker. I thought we had him but he shot up to the top of the scoreboard. He has nerves of steel and did a great job."