Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Sports

Carl Edwards seeks winning homecoming at Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Carl Edwards boasts a stout resume at Kansas Speedway, reeling off the kind of finishes that keep him in contention at one of his favorite tracks.

Five top-fives. Nine top-10s.

But one big 0-fer.

"No victories, though," Edwards said. "That's the problem."

Edwards has long considered Kansas his hometown track, at least in NASCAR, since it opened in 2001. Edwards hails about 140 miles east in Columbia, Mo. — home of the University of Missouri, Shakespeare's Pizza, The Blue Note and Rock Bridge State Park — but not a Sprint Cup champ. At least, not yet.

Edwards still has the rest of this season to chase a title for Jack Roush and Roush Fenway Racing. But his future remains uncertain: Edwards and teammate Greg Biffle are the top free agents in the series. Joe Gibbs Racing, which was turned down by Edwards when he re-signed with Roush in 2011, could be interested in making another run at him to expand to four cars next season.

Edwards refused Friday to discuss contract negotiations and his interest in JGR.

"At the end of the day, I am a Ford driver and drive for Jack Roush, and that is my job," he said.

Edwards is fifth in the points and has a win this season, all but securing his spot in the Chase for the Championship. Edwards called the mood at RFR "hopeful" that some solid finishes — outside of last week's 30th at Talladega — will keep them in the hunt.

"I think if we continue on that path, we will have a shot at the championship and that is all we can do," Edwards said.

Edwards and Clint Bowyer of Emporia, Kan., are the sentimental picks at Kansas. Edwards is counting on plenty of friends and family to make the trip for tonight's race.

"There are a lot of people in the grandstands and garage that if it weren't for them, I definitely wouldn't have this opportunity," he said. "For me, a win here would be a win for all those folks and validate or maybe in a way pay them back for how much they have done for me.

"This place is really special for that reason."

This is also the first Sprint Cup night race at the 1½-mile speedway.

"I think night racing is great for our fan base," six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson said. "It's tough for the teams and drivers because we are so used to a Sunday format. We sit around a lot in the morning. The crew goes to work and the drivers sit and wait and then it's finally time to go. If the fans are smiling, hopefully they will show their support by coming out and tuning in (tonight) on television."

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