Auto Racing / Sports

Carl Edwards looks to improve on track he covets

It's easy to understand Carl Edwards' conundrum.

There's no place on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series where Edwards would rather win than Kansas Speedway, where he'll compete in Saturday's 5-Hour Energy 400. Edwards qualified fourth Friday in his Aflac Ford.

Friday, he reminded a group of the days when the track opened in 2001. He'd motor along Interstate 70 "and almost couldn't look at the grandstands" as if not to jinx his chance of someday racing so close to his Columbia home.

Edwards got his chance, a Sprint Cup competitor for a decade. But not only has he never won at the track near and dear, but his Roush Fenway Racing team has been struggling at 1.5-mile tracks this season.

Edwards' fifth-place finish at Las Vegas and Greg Biffle's sixth-place finish at Texas have been as good as it gets for Roush on the 1.5-mile oval. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., has finished in the 20s in both races.

"The deal is we have to be better and everybody knows it, from top to bottom," said Edwards, who won at Bristol earlier this year and is fourth in Sprint Cup driver points.

Edwards also wants to separate the issue from his contract status. He and Biffle are in the final year of their Roush deals and speculation persists that Edwards could be on the move.

Edwards holds up the stop sign on queries.

"You guys know I don't like to talk about that stuff in the media," Edwards said. "To me, that is business and I have made the mistake of letting that turn into a big media thing."

Edwards will be in great demand, and not only for his driving. A recent story in BusinessWeek.com cited a study that suggested Edwards is the only driver in the Sprint Cup Series who can increase TV ratings by attracting new fans.

"It surprised me," Edwards said of his popularity. "I thought it was interesting. I know I'm happy when I do well. It is good to know that other people might be too."

But a strong showing at Kansas is the priority, and the dream.

"There are a lot of people in the grandstands and in the garage that if it weren't for them I definitely wouldn't have this opportunity," Edwards said.

(c)2014 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)

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