Carl Edwards: No points system encourages wrecking
By: By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service, Superior Telegram
DOVER, Del. -- Kudos to Carl Edwards for putting things in perspective.
In explaining the striking absence of caution flags this season, several drivers last week pointed to the current points system and the necessity of making the Chase as a possible reason for more conservative racing.
The undercurrent, however, seems to be that if drivers aren't wrecking, they aren't racing as intensely as they could.
Edwards acknowledges that drivers may be racing more intelligently, but that's doesn't mean they're not trying to win.
"There is not a point system that NASCAR can devise that is going to make us go out there and wreck race cars, you guys," Edwards said Friday at Dover International Speedway. "There is nothing positive out of wrecking a race car. It hurts your chances at winning the race, which is all of our number one goals when we come to the race track.
"I want to be very clear; no driver is going out there and putting the focus on not wrecking. We go out there and race. I don't know if you guys have ridden in these race cars, but we are driving the hell out of these race cars. We also are learning and understanding that you can't really plan on winning a race or championship if you are wrecking.
"No matter what point system they come up with, I can't think of one where everybody is going to go out there and go, 'Hell, let's just go out there and wreck.' That just won't happen. We can talk about it all we want but we are all going to race to race, not to wreck."
HAMLIN'S RAIN PLAN
Meteorology may not be Denny Hamlin's primary field of expertise, but the driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota is taking no chances with an iffy weather forecast for Saturday.
Both Hamlin and teammate Kyle Busch made strong qualifying runs during Friday's first Sprint Cup practice at Dover, placing them second and fourth on the speed chart.
If qualifying takes place as scheduled on Saturday afternoon, Hamlin and Busch will go out late in the session, a disadvantage on a presumably hotter and slicker track than the slower cars in practice will see earlier in the day.
If rain washes out qualifying, however, those with the fastest cars in Friday's opening practice will start up front in Sunday's FedEx 400 -- second and fourth, respectively, in the cases of Hamlin and Busch.
While others sandbagged first practice to get an earlier draw, Hamlin hedged his bet and didn't try to manipulate his position in the qualifying order.
"The weather is really the only reason why you wouldn't try to change your position," Hamlin explained. "If it gets rained out, you don't want to get caught by the rain (with a poor starting spot), and obviously there's a greater chance (of rain on Saturday).
"That's why we tried to go as fast as we could (on Friday) to ensure -- if for some reason we don't qualify -- we at least have a good position."
KENSETH: MEMORIES OF DOVER
Fourteen years have passed since Matt Kenseth made his first Cup start at Dover, but Sept. 20, 1998 made an indelible impression on the 2003 series champion.
Kenseth was a last-minute substitute for Bill Elliott, whose father, George Elliott, had passed away that week. In fact, Kenseth was so last-minute that he had no fire suit matching the McDonald's car Elliott fielded and drove at the time.
In a suit borrowed from one of his crewmen, Kenseth drove Elliott's No. 94 to a sixth-place finish, the best result for a driver making his first Cup start since Rusty Wallace finished second in his debut at Atlanta in 1980.
"I was wearing one of the crew uniforms for my driver's suit, with somebody else's name on it and knee pads for changing tires," Kenseth said. "McDonald's gave me that suit and took the guy's name off it and put it in a box.
"I've got it up at my place in Wisconsin. I put it in a glass case -- pretty cool."