Carl Edwards doesn’t exactly put forth the image of a gunslinger, but he’s basically forced into that role this weekend at Michigan International Speedway.
“We are coming into Michigan with our guns blazing,” Edwards said Friday afternoon. “We have a very fast race car and have been working very hard on it. Chad (crew chief Chad Norris) and all the guys have pulled out all the stops. We had a very good practice, and I am excited about racing.”
Edwards has much work to do and not much time to do it. He is 12th in Sprint Cup points, two positions and 43 points out of the top 10. And he’s lagging in the wild-card race with no victories.
With only four races remaining until the Chase cutoff, Edwards is in dire straits.
He was sixth in the first round of practice Friday, indicating the No. 99 team has a car that is at least competitive for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400.
If he’s in position late in the race, Edwards might be willing to go over the edge to shoot for a win, considering his difficult position.
“I think with the groove being narrow as it is – I don’t know if it will be like that by the time we have the last restart, but if it is narrow there may be opportunities to be aggressive on the restart and go outside the box with your line,” Edwards said. “You might not be in the preferred groove, but you could make something happen.
“If you watch some of the restarts at this place, guys sometimes will get a run and it will be three or four or five wide into that first corner. I think you might see a lot of that. Those are the things we are willing to risk on more right now than we have in the past.”
Edwards owns two wins at Michigan – in 2007 and 2008. Team owner Jack Roush has struggled at the track in recent years.
“I can tell you this, when we are in victory lane, of all the ones I have been in I have never seen Jack happier than the one here at Michigan,” Edwards said. “Hopefully, we can do that this weekend. It would be huge for us and for Jack.”
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 30 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.