Clint Bowyer may be the locals’ favorite this weekend at Kansas Speedway, but Carl Edwards should have more than a few fans in his corner as well.
The Roush Fenway Racing driver is a native of Columbia, Missouri, which is just two hours down Interstate 70 from the 1.5-mile Kansas oval.
Obviously, he would love to win for the first time at what he regards as his home track. And thanks to his earlier victory this season at Bristol Motor Speedway – which effectively put him into the Chase – Edwards is ready to give it everything he has.
“Talladega did not go as we wanted but now we go to Kansas and for me, there is no bigger race during the season than Kansas,” he said going into the weekend. “So many people that I know come to that race, people who have helped me in my career, and it would be really special to win.
“I know that the fans around central Missouri are excited, I’ve heard a lot of people talking about going to the race. [Crew chief] Jimmy [Fennig] and all of the guys have been working really hard, they have a Aflac Ford Fusion and a set of ideas that we can use to win.
“We have nothing to lose right now. We have already got a win and we are doing OK in the points so this race will be one where we truly just go for it.”
Edwards has had some near-misses in his career at Kansas, finishing runner-up in 2008. But by earning five Top-5 finishes (including a fifth last fall in the Chase) and nine Top-10s across 13 Kansas starts, he’s got an average finish of 10.8 at Kansas.
That’s good for fifth-best among all active drivers, so it’s definitely not like Edwards has been snakebit there like Kyle Busch.
Edwards was 16th-quickest in today’s first Sprint Cup practice. Final practice just got underway a few minutes ago at Kansas.
Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.
The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.
Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.
“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”
Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”
Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.
The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.