Originally created 06/13/05

Youth is key for Edwards



LONG POND, Pa. - At 25, Carl Edwards was too young to know Pocono Raceway is supposed to be one of the most-difficult tracks on the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series circuit.

He also was young enough to take a late flight, arrive at the track at 4 a.m., drive 500 miles around the coat-hanger shaped speedway, and then have enough energy to do his customary backflip off the car after winning the Pocono 500.

"It's going to take a lot more to wear me out," Edwards said.

Edwards had never seen the 2.5-mile racetrack before Friday, although he had familiarized himself of the unique shape by playing video games.

He also attempted to race in the Busch Series race Saturday night in Nashville, Tenn., which forced him to travel back during the night.

The rookie, however, responded by leading 28 of the final 30 laps, including an extra lap of overtime, for his second career victory.

"I'm starting to get a feel for how these 400- and 500-mile races progress," Edwards said. "Not shifting helped me. The biggest help was my crew. We passed three or four people on pit road (during the first stop), so I knew if they keep doing that we were going to be in good shape."

The Busch Series race was postponed until Sunday by rain. Car owner Jack Roush flew Edwards back to the Pocono Mountains late Saturday night, but the airport at Mount Pocono was too foggy.

They ended up flying 50 miles away to Wilkes-Barre. Then they drove an hour to the track and got to bed by 4 a.m..

"I slept right up to the drivers' meeting (two hours before the race)," Edwards said. "I got plenty of sleep. I felt fine."

Edwards had led the Busch Series standings, so there was some thought for Edwards to stay in Nashville and skip the Nextel Cup race at Pocono.

"That is something we thought about," Edwards said. "That would have been really silly. It wasn't the right thing to do. We can afford to lose some points over there (in the Busch Series); we needed a good points day here today."

Edwards dropped to second in the Busch Series standings by skipping Sunday's race, but he jumped five spots to fourth in the Nextel Cup rankings.

Brian Vickers led 121 of 200 laps, but once Edwards gained track position he had to settle for second place.

Joe Nemechek, a veteran with 13 years in the Nextel Cup Series, finished third, while 20-year-old rookie Kyle Busch was fourth.

"We're all new to this racetrack," the 21-year-old Vickers said, referring to himself, Edwards and Busch.

"The one thing that comes to mind is I like a loose race car. I could tell Carl was in the same position. Carl was phenomenal on long runs. When the pressures (in the tires) would build up, our speeds would drop off and he would go faster."