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Edwards gets Texas-sized opportunity to end his Nextel Cup victory drought

STEPHEN HAWKINS • Apr 13, 2007 at 10:54 AM

FORT WORTH, Texas - Carl Edwards has been waiting a long time to do another Sunday back flip.

While Edwards is dominating the Busch Series this year, with a huge points lead and two straight victories, he hasn't been able to do his trademark celebration after a Nextel Cup race since November 2005 in Texas.

"It doesn't really seem like that long ago," Edwards said.

But it's been 44 Cup races since Edwards got to do a back flip under the lights at Texas to mark his second straight victory - and the fourth in the Roush Racing driver's first full Cup season.

Maybe Edwards has been too busy with all the driving and having too much success in Busch to realize that 17 months passed since he won in the top series.

And it's not like he's really having a bad season in Cup. He is ranked ninth in points, but has only two top-10 finishes.

"I feel like I have two cracks at it every weekend," Edwards said. "If I have a bad run in one of the cars and I have a good one in the other one, at least I did something good that weekend. ... I've been generally in a good mood since I got the job with Jack (Roush)."

Edwards gets two more races this weekend back in Texas, the Samsung 500 on Sunday after today's O'Reilly 300 Busch race.

After Cup qualifying was canceled Friday because of severe storms, Edwards will start 10th based on owner points in the main event. Points leader Jeff Gordon is on the front row with Jeff Burton.

There hasn't been a repeat winner in 12 Cup races at Texas Motor Speedway. Kasey Kahne won last spring and was running second last fall at the 1½-mile, high-banked track before he had an engine failure late in the race won by Tony Stewart.

Kahne hasn't been waiting as long as Edwards for another Cup victory, but the Evernham Motorsports driver is lower in the standings than he's ever been - 34th through six races, even though he has started on the front row three times.

Since a seventh-place finish in the season- opening Daytona 500, Kahne hasn't finished better than 19th.

"It's just nice to be at a track we've run well at and look forward to hopefully getting things back to where they need to be," Kahne said. "Last year, we were just strong from the start of the year. This year, we've been decent but have had a lot of different things go on and haven't had the results."

Kahne won a series-high six races last season, when he also had 13 other top-10 finishes and was eighth in season points.

So far, Edwards hasn't been able to transfer his unprecedented success in the Busch Series to the Sunday races.

He hasn't finished lower than sixth in a Busch race this season. He won at Nashville last weekend when the Cup took an Easter break, and starts second in Texas.

"Running well in the Busch Series really feels great," Edwards said. "It's just a fun series because there's a little less pressure. ... The pressure on the Cup side is sometimes a little bit oppressive, but it feels that much better when you win. But racing here is fun."

Especially when having the kind of success he is.

This is Edwards' third Busch season. His only goal is to win the championship. "The first year, we felt like we had a chance to win a championship, and then we didn't get it," he said. "Then last year, Kevin (Harvick) has such a spectacular year. So this year, we'll give it another shot." Edwards was third in points in 2005, when he won five times to go along with his four Cup victories. While winless in the primary series last year, Edwards had four Busch wins and was the series' runner-up in Harvick's incredible season. Harvick, another full-time Cup and Busch driver, won nine times in 2006 and clinched the Busch title with five weeks left in the season. Through six Busch races last year, Harvick had 952 points to lead second-place J.J. Yeley by 121. Edwards isn't even close to that - he's way past it. He already has 1,200 points and a 321-point advantage over Dave Blaney, who crashed in qualifying and will start 42nd today. "We're only seven races in. Kevin Harvick's season last season was unbelievable, and it was unbelievable because every race he ran really well," Edwards said. "I'm not going to rest on any success we've had early. We have to keep digging as hard as we can." Maybe some of that success can carry over to Sunday and he'll soon need a razor for his motorhome driver, who pledged last year not to shave again until Edwards won another Cup race.

"Tom's beard is pretty crazy. I've got to win a Cup race for him," Edwards said. "Hopefully, he'll get to shave."

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