Monday, November 21, 2011

Edwards Is NASCAR's Other Champion

Carl Edwards lost the closest championship in NASCAR history Sunday night at Homestead Miami Speedway, leading a race-high 119 laps and finishing second to rival Tony Stewart in the title-deciding Ford 400. He and Stewart tallied an identical 2,403 points over the 10-race Chase, with Stewart claiming the Sprint Cup on a tiebreaker.

If there were a trophy for class, however, Edwards would have taken it, hands down.

As his Roush Fenway Racing Aflac Ford crossed beneath the checkered flag Sunday, just 1.5 seconds too late to realize his season long championship dream, Edwards spoke immediately to his team, hailing them for their hard work over the last 10 months, urging them to “keep your heads up” and promising to “go home and work and beat them next year.” He spoke directly to crew chief Bob Osborne on the cool down lap, calling him “the best on pit road," then exited his racer to deal with the media.

He waited patiently while third-place finisher Martin Truex, Jr., answered his post-race questions in the deadline room, then fielded dozens of his own; describing the toughest, most demoralizing night of his career with an uncommon degree of poise and grace.

“They beat us fair and square," said Edwards, forcing a smile. “That was all I had at the end. My guys did a really good job. We led the most laps, and Tony still managed to do a good job with their strategy. That was all I (had) at the end. That’s as hard as I can drive.”

When he mourned, he did so for his team, not himself. “As tough as this is for me, it’s tougher for those guys,” he said. “(They're) the guys that prepare these cars and determine which things we’re gonna work on through the year and what strategies we’re going to use. They make some very, very big decisions that they can't turn around and change in a heartbeat.

“As a race-car driver, I can make quick decisions out there and I can fix things and make things happen. They make some very, very thought-out decisions, and I’m sure their disappointment is as great -- or greater -- than mine.”

After speaking so confidently throughout the Chase, the Roush Fenway Racing driver admitted after the race that he was prepared for the possibility of failure. "I knew this was a possibility,” he said. “I was prepared for this. I told myself and my family that the one thing I am going to do is walk back to that motor home -- win, lose or draw -- and be a good example for my kids. We talked about it before the race... I’m not to go back and tear the door off the motor home.

“As painful as this is right now, I know we are fortunate to go to Daytona and start all over again.”

Edwards’ grace under fire was not lost on Stewart, who recalled his post-race conversation with the Missouri native. “You couldn’t ask for a better guy,” said Stewart. “He (said), ‘I hope a year from now, we are in the same battle again just like this. Everyone respects Carl for the person that he is. There have been a lot of things that have happened (in the past) that make you go, `Is there sincerity involved in what he says?' But there were no cameras there when he said that. He just came and talked to me, driver to driver. That means a lot. It shows who he is as a person… and he’ll win a championship.

“He’ll be up here in our position again.”


  1. Anonymous7:05 PM

    Awesome article Dave. Thanks for writing it. I am an Edwards fan and am proud to rout for a guy with class and humility.

  2. Mary Lou fom Alabama8:54 PM

    Thanks, Dave. I live and die with Carl all season, and I was so disappointed last night, but I knew I was even more proud. When I joined the wake among many of my Twitter friends/99 devotees, I was surprised at the level of devastation. Some had thrown up, many seemed like nascent bridge-jumpers. That situation really caused me to take stock, and I think Carl was my greatest inspiration. I kept thinking of his (in my mind) most powerful pre-race comment - that neither a win nor a loss would define him as a man. This man runs deep, as I've known for some time, and I was moved to do my best to honor him.

    So I became den mother for the night, urging my comrades to just be proud that they supported a driver who looked like the classiest guy on the planet, and modeled true character. I think knowing and appreciating that is more valuable than the biggest trophy one could construct. People seemed to come around some, and I hope they remember how blessed we are.

    I treasure your recognition and appreciation of this magnificent race driver and even more remarkable man. Thank you.

    Mary Lou Morgan (Mary Lou from Alabama)

  3. Anonymous9:00 PM

    Carl Edwards would have represented our beloved sport as a "gentleman" and a gentle man, just as Jimmie has for the past 5 years. IMO, Nascar would have greatly benefited from the image of Carl as our champion- what an example both he and Jimmie are to our youth.

  4. Rev RedBeard9:28 PM

    Great article Dave. I left the Ford camp with Rusty when Penske went to Dodge. I haven't found a Ford guy I really liked since then til now. I can once again rout for my beloved blue oval. Rev RedBeard

  5. If there were a trophy for class, however, Edwards would have taken it, hands down.

    Back when Carl and Kes were feuding, I'd have disagreed vehemently with that statement. Now?

    Not so much. Carl set a great example, and I am also certain he will prevail in the end.

  6. Anonymous7:14 AM

    When you give one position 4 points ahead of the next place racer instead of one point like all the others and look at all the 2d place finishes, the top 5's and the top 10's, the average finishing position and leading the points nearly all season to lose them when the chase starts you just have to ask who the real champion is. And then you add the class it definitely is Carl.

  7. We in Columbia, Missouri, Carl's home town, know what kind of person he is and are very very proud of him. We do hope he is in this position again very soon. Our support continues regardless of points and position. He is a CLASS individual.

  8. I've known Carl (then Mike!) since his gradeschool days. I often said that you can tell the man by watching the child. On the playground Carl always included everyone, even the younger kids and the klutzes, in the playground games. Carl was the first kid picked when taking sides for soccer or other team games, of course, but he always made sure that everyone got to play. He was a generous, genuine kid who has grown up to be an authentic champion. I couldn't be more proud of our hometown boy! Go get that championship in 2012!

  9. Nancy Amelunke9:33 PM

    This quote says it all... "Winning like a champion is one thing. Losing like a champion is pure class. Carl Edwards, I haven't seen anyone take second with more class" Mario Andretti

    I am so proud of the student from Cedar Ridge Elementary School and I am proud to say I was one of his teachers. Carl, Columbia is proud of you. You have always been at the top of the class! You have the personality that I wish for all my students.

  10. Ditto on what Nancy Russell said - I have known Carl since grade school too and he is a class act. He is our hometown hero, lives here, married here, shops here, raises his kids here, and is a shining example of what hard work and dedication can do and never giving up on your dream. I am proud to have been a small part of his life -- he and my oldest son and Sam Russell were classmates. His mother and I were room mothers -- she too has class and grace, which is where Carl learned it. Kudos to the whole family and Carl, we'll be with you when the season begins again. Forever Edheads!!

  11. Anonymous12:57 PM

    Sorry, but I just don't trust Carl Edwards as far as I can throw him based on past history (such as the Matt Kenseth fake punch incident, and almost killing Brad Keselowski). Once an Eddie Haskell, always an Eddie Haskell. He talks a good talk, but I have to take his sincerity with a grain of salt.

  12. Anonymous1:24 AM

    Carl Edwards is a snake. He has always been a snake and he will always be a snake. For those of you that have fallen for his gracious loser routine you need to cut the dosage of whatever you are on and return to reality. Next season after he wrecks someone because he can't out drive him and hopefully that driver does not die, what will you say about phony Carl then ? The guy is nothing more than a creep that would sucker punch someone because deep down he is simply a coward.

  13. Ashley9:51 PM

    I like how the previous comment states that Carl is a snake, while there are people that actually know him who are saying how genuine and kind he is. I think I will go with the latter opinions. Just because he made a few mistakes in his career (he apologized for them) doesn't make you better than he is. Everyone else has moved on, why don't you?

    Moving on to Carl, he is a true class act. This is why he is my favorite driver. He has the ability to lose with grace and not blame others. He builds his team up rather than knocks them down unlike some people *cough cough Kurt Busch*. I know he will get the championship next year because he will learn so much from this year! Regardless of the fact that he didn't get it his year, I am very proud of him!

  14. Anonymous11:09 PM

    To the Gentlemen/Ladies calling names, just remember this quote "Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone!"

    Dustin Parker