Edwards Looks To Repeat

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LONG POND, Pa. - One month ago, Carl Edwards rode to Pocono Raceway in the back of a pickup truck, arriving in the early hours of the morning after running the NASCAR Busch Series race at Nashville Superspeedway and encountering problems landing in the Pocono area.

Hours later, Edwards went out and won the Pocono 500.

This weekend, Edwards is again doing double duty, running in Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series race at Pikes Peak and Sunday's Pennsylvania 500.

Edwards and the other NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers held two practice sessions Friday. But, while the NEXTEL Cup competitors qualify Saturday, Edwards will be racing a Busch Series car at the other side of the country.

"Hey, I might ride in the of a pickup truck after we land just for fun," Edwards said. "I'll take that excitement again if it makes us run as well as we did.

"Absolutely we can win here again," Edwards added. "Our car's really good. We're not going to miss any practice. The only thing is we're going to have to start in the back because we're missing qualifying. I'm really hoping that our car is as fast as it was in June. It looks really good in practice so far, so I'm pretty pumped about it."

ARCA RE/MAX Series veteran Bobby Gerhart will qualify the No. 99 Ford while Edwards is in Colorado.

"He's awesome, so he should do good," Edwards said of Gerhart.

Edwards doesn't mind driving at two different ends of the country this weekend.

"All I ever wanted to do was drive race cars, so I'm getting to drive a lot of race cars," Edwards said. "It will be a blast."

Edwards admitted he was a bit surprised by his victory here in June.

"I think our success here last time was unexpected," he admitted. "We hoped to come here and run in the top 10, that would have been a victory for me and for my team, but man, we've got such a strong team. Roush Racing is awesome right now, and I'm blessed to be driving these cars. I owe it to my team is what I'm saying."

  • While Edwards was planning to fly back and forth across the country, three teams were scrambling to prepare backup cars after Jimmie Johnson, Elliott Sadler and Kyle Busch crashed their primary cars in Friday's practice.

    Johnson hit the wall during Friday's first practice session.

    "If there's a time to have it happen, now is the time," Johnson said. "I just got loose into Turn 1, spun and tore up the race car. Just trying hard and got loose. One of those deals. You hate to lose a race car – it was one of our best race cars. But, all of our race cars are good."

  • Sadler backed his M&Ms Ford into the Turn 3 wall early in the final practice. It was his second incident in two weeks, after being involved in an accident during last weekend's race at New Hampshire.

    "I just lost it," Sadler said. "You've got to start the car off loose to be good on long runs and I was just wanting to keep trying to drive through it. I just 100 percent lost it myself. It’s a bad feeling."

    Only a few weeks ago, Sadler was a comfortable third in the NEXTEL Cup point standings. Now, he's scrambling just to make the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.

    "This is a tough sport and there are only so many pieces of the pie," Sadler said. "You've got a lot of good teams that are trying to fight their way in and you've got a lot of us that feel like we belong in the top 10. We need to go out there and race hard."

  • Kyle Busch had his incident in the closing minutes of final practice, damaging both the left-front and left-rear corners of the Kellogg's Chevrolet. Crew chief Alan Gustafson explained that Busch was attempting a simulated qualifying run when he got into the apron in Turn 2. "No, no, no," Gustafson said when asked if it was a tire problem.

  • Ryan Newman was quickest in opening practice with a lap of 166.645 mph, followed by Brian Vickers, Joe Nemechek, Kyle Busch and Mark Martin. Ryan Newman led the second and final practice session with a lap of 166.012 mph, followed by Michael Waltrip, Sterling Marlin, Ricky Rudd, Kasey Kahne and Martin.

  • Forty-seven drivers will attempt to qualify. Non-regulars hoping to make the field include Mike Garvey, Greg Sacks, Derrike Cope and Kevin Lepage.

  • Mark Martin is still not sure of his plans for 2006 as his "Salute to You" farewell tour begins its stretch run.

    Martin posted the sixth-fastest speed in both practice sessions Friday in what might be his final event at Pocono.

    On the other hand, he might be back next year.

    Speculation continues to build that he might be back in Jack Roush's No. 6 Ford in 2006, with Jamie McMurray taking over in 2007 after running one final year in Chip Ganassi's No. 42 Dodge.

    "It's Chip's option," Martin said. "There's been no indication from them of anything otherwise. There's a lot of people speculating differently, but there's no new news. That's all I know. My primary focus is still putting my truck deal together. I've been working on it this morning, and we're going to put it together the best we can and we're going to be ready to go racing. I say you never know what might happen."
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