By admin | March 7, 2008
All eyes should be on Edwards
By Richard Allen
Carl Edwards is used to having people look at him. He has appeared on the covers of several magazines. He does those celebratory back flips which are shown by all the sports highlights shows. And lately, people have been looking at him because he has been leading the pack in NASCAR Sprint Cup races.
This weekend in Atlanta all eyes should be on Edwards, but not because he is posing for some magazine. Everyone should be watching him to see if he and his car perform as well as they have over the past two weeks.
After last Sunday’s win in Las Vegas NASCAR inspectors discovered that a cap used for covering an oil tank was not in place.
Edwards’ Roush-Fenway Racing team was docked 100 points, fined $100,000 and crew chief Bob Osborne was suspended for six races as a result of the infraction.
Roush-Fenway claims the bolt meant to hold the cap in place failed because of the vibration of the car throughout the race. RFR also maintains the benefit of increased down force from the missing cap being off would be minimal.
Others, particularly Toyota officials, believe the bolt was intentionally allowed to fail. Those officials argue that the benefit gained would be significant. Toyota says their wind tunnel tests showed an increase of 170 pounds of increased down force with said cap removed.
So, who is right, Roush-Fenway Racing or Toyota?
The answer should come from watching Edwards this weekend. Atlanta Motor Speedway has been one of his best tracks. He won his first Sprint Cup race there in the Spring of 2005. He also won his first Nationwide Series race on the track during the same weekend. He then followed those victories up with another Sprint Cup win at AMS in the Fall of the same year.
Edwards and his team have been on a roll of late. He won races in Bristol and Dover during the second half of 2007. Both of those wins came in the Car of Tomorrow, the car now used exclusively in the Cup series. He started off this season by winning two of the first three races.
Unfortunately for him and his team, the rules infraction has put a damper on his good start.
If Edwards runs well this Sunday then maybe we can assume RFR was right and perhaps the missing cap provided little benefit. This could prove the team had simply done their homework and that is why they have been doing so well.
However, if Edwards does not run well perhaps we can assume Toyota officials were right and the missing cap did aid at least the Las Vegas victory.
There can be few excuses. This is a track that has favored Edwards in the past, RFR has performed well of late with the CoT and the #99 team is on a hot streak.
All eyes should be on Carl Edwards this Sunday to prove that either his recent wins were legitimate or that his recent performance has been rightfully tarnished.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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