Weekend preview: Carl Edwards eager to return to winning ways at Texas
By: NASCAR Wire Service, Superior Telegram
For all the star power and remarkable consistency that he showed during last season's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Carl Edwards still had one thing missing -- his customary trips to Victory Lane.
Edwards' losing streak stands at 39 races, a stretch of just more than a year since he last performed his signature celebratory backflip. But his history and his team's past performance suggest that may change this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
After a rare idle weekend for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Edwards enters Saturday night's Samsung Mobile 500 (FOX, 7 p.m. ET) as the Fort Worth track's winningest driver, with three victories in his 14 efforts there. His Texas win tally is equal to his three triumphs at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a similar 1.5-mile layout, giving him another reason for optimism.
"Those mile-and-a-halves have been great for us from day one," Edwards said. "Texas is always fun, just a fun event to go to. It's been a great race track for us."
As long as his current dry spell is, it's not the biggest drought of Edwards' career. He also endured a 70-race skid that spanned all of 2009 and most of the 2010 season.
Perhaps the same champing at the bit feeling is why Edwards would've preferred not to have an off weekend over Easter.
"Truly for me, I feel like I've run half as many races as normal by this point of the season. I'm used to running the Nationwide Series so much," Edwards said ahead of the one-week break. "So I don't need a weekend off right now as a driver. You know, I need to keep racing. I'm ready to race."
Another source of hope for Edwards is the level of success his Roush Fenway Racing team has had at Texas. The multicar stable has a series-record eight Fort Worth wins, the most recent one coming in this race last season with Matt Kenseth besting Clint Bowyer down the stretch.
Even with the history of Texas dominance on his side, team owner Jack Roush said his organization's on-track progress at intermediate-size tracks this season has left him wanting more.
"I'm guardedly optimistic and a little apprehensive," Roush said. "We didn't run as good as we'd hoped to at Fontana and we're a little disappointed with the result at Las Vegas. I hope we're back on track to do what we did last year at the mile-and-a-half race tracks. Texas, we won with multiple drivers in all three series, and I just hope we can get back and keep that dream alive."
SADLER STILL OUT FRONT IN NATIONWIDE
After two weeks off, Elliott Sadler finds himself in the same position as he has been all season -- on top of the NASCAR Nationwide Series standings.
Sadler will remain on point as the tour resumes at Texas Motor Speedway with Friday night's O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 (ESPN2, 8:30 p.m. ET).
The 1.5-mile track has been the site of special moments in Sadler's racing career. He won at Texas in Sprint Cup Series competition and has two Nationwide Series pole positions there. Sadler also turned the first test laps to christen the track in 1996.
"So to say that I like Texas is definitely understated," Sadler said. "It's a place I look forward to. It's a place I feel like we're going to run good at and we have a chance to win even before we unload. We're taking a very good race car with us there this weekend, the same car I had at Vegas that we sat on the pole with, and hopefully we'll go there and be fast and have a good weekend."
Sadler has won two of the series' five races so far this season, helping to keep full-time Sprint Cup drivers from poaching Nationwide victories on a part-time basis. Cup drivers were shut out in the 2012 Nationwide tour until the series' most recent race, when Joey Logano won from the pole March 24 at Auto Club Speedway.
"I just think all the Nationwide guys have definitely been faster this year compared to last year," Sadler said. "I think everybody is getting more and more used to this race car."
TRUCKS MARK RETURN TO 'THE ROCK'
It's a new venue for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, but one that reaches back to stock-car racing's roots.
Rockingham Speedway returns to the NASCAR schedule for the first time since 2004, when the Sprint Cup Series last competed on the mile track. Former ARCA champion Andy Hillenburg bought the track at auction in 2007 and revived the facility as a base for his race-driving school and other touring series events.
Now Rockingham is back with Sunday's Good Sam Roadside Assistance 200 (SPEED, 1 p.m. ET), stirring memories that date all the way back to Curtis Turner winning the first NASCAR race there on Halloween 1965.
"It's pretty exciting to go back to a track which really made the NASCAR world," said four-time truck series champion Ron Hornaday Jr., ". . . I'm glad Hillenburg and everybody down there, the whole staff, got this thing going."
Ty Dillon might be new to the truck series, but the impressive rookie -- currently fourth in the points -- has some recent experience at Rockingham; he prevailed in the most recent ARCA race held there, in 2010.
"It's going to be tough to dial (in) a truck compared to an ARCA car there, but I feel like I've got a good understanding of the race track," Dillon said. "It will be somewhat of an equal playing ground for the only time this year, I believe, that everybody's going there for the first time in a long time. We've been there earlier than anybody else has, so I feel like we might have a little bit of an advantage."