Carl Edwards wants to give Jack Roush the ultimate thank you and going-away present: a Sprint Cup championship


CHICAGO – So much has been made this season about how Dale Earnhardt Jr. wants to win this year’s Sprint Cup championship not only for himself, but also as a parting gift for crew chief Steve Letarte.

Letarte is leaving Hendrick Motorsports at the end of the season to join NBC as a NASCAR analyst in 2015.

But there’s another driver in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup that is equally focused on giving the biggest parting gift he can to someone who, had it not been for his faith and believe in Edwards’ talent and ability, Cousin Carl knows all too well he would not be where he’s at today in the world of NASCAR.

Of course, Edwards is talking about team owner Jack Roush. It was Roush who discovered Edwards racing on Midwest short tracks in and around his native Columbia, Mo.

It was Roush that gave Edwards his big break in the Camping World Truck Series.

And then when Jeff Burton left, it was Roush who promoted Edwards to the Sprint Cup Series – and the rest is history.

There admittedly were some initial hard feelings between the pair when Edwards told Roush a few months back that he would not leaving the RFR stable for a new opportunity with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2015.

To put it mildly, Jack did not take the news very well at first.

But now, Edwards’ pending departure, as well as veteran crew chief Jimmy Fennig’s plan to step down at season’s end and into more of a consultancy role, Edwards and Roush are determined to make their final season together a championship-winning season.

“We know that when Homestead’s over, that’s it, this chapter will be closed,” Edwards said. “In a way, it’s kind of neat to see everybody rally around and want to go do this when it’s our last shot at it.”

In a way, Edwards is looking to complete some unfinished business from three years ago. He gave Tony Stewart everything he could handle in the 2011 Chase, even tied Stewart for the points lead after the season finale at Homestead.

But Stewart ultimately won his third career Cup crown, while Edwards fell short of his first, by virtue of a first tiebreaker: Stewart had five wins to just one for Edwards.

“That whole year, we were very good,” Edwards said. “(Then-crew chief) Bob Osborne was on his game. We were doing a real good job with our strategy, our pit stops, my restarts. We were fast enough that I could race right at the edge without making mistakes and perform real well.

“That’s the same thing this year … and you have to do that for 10 races. You have to be perfect with this format.”

While new opportunities and different ways of doing things await in 2015 for Edwards at his soon-to-be new team, Joe Gibbs Racing, Edwards is putting all his effort into rewarding Roush for everything he’s done for him over the years.

“I think there’s three reasons our team could do well,” Edwards said. “The first one is our pit crew is very solid, we’re very good, I don’t think we’ll make mistakes, we can beat people there.

“(Second) Jimmy Fennig is as good or better than any crew chief that’s ever been on top of the box with calling the race, so I think we will get the best finishes possible.

“(Third) I believe my experience in the Chase, the things I’ve gone through, I think that I’m going to be able to do a really good job of not making mistakes on the racetrack. Those are the three reasons why I think we’re going to be good.”

But, there is a caveat to all that, Edwards concedes.

“The thing we really need is we just need more speed,” Edwards said. “If we can keep working at the direction we’re working and three, four races in we’re still in the hunt and we start getting faster, then I think we can be a real threat for the championship – but we have to do all four things really well.”

And even though Edwards, Fennig and Roush will all go in different directions at season’s end, they’re kind of like the Three Musketeers heading into the Chase:

One for all and all for one.

“I’ve been really surprised in a good way at how little impact my announcement of leaving has made,” Edwards said. “With our day-to-day stuff, the meetings, the way we work together at the racetrack, nothing has changed.

“I think that says a lot of the professionalism at Roush Fenway Racing. … The work is there and the desire to win is there. Every one of my crew guys, we’ve all talked about it. Everyone’s on board.

“I think with Jimmy Fennig announcing his retirement, it kind of puts us all in the same boat, so to speak. We all know this is the last year we’re going to do this together, so let’s just make it a good one.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Kyle Larson wins third consecutive High Limit Sprint race at Eagle Raceway, Rico Abreu second again

Larson High Limit Eagle
High Limit Racing - Twitter

It took four attempts for Kyle Larson to win his first High Limit Sprint Car Series race in the series he co-owns with brother-in-law Brad Sweet, but once he found victory lane, he has been undefeated with his win at Eagle (Nebraska) Raceway. For the second week, Abreu led early only to fall prey to Larson.

The win was Larson’s third straight victory and the fifth consecutive top-five, giving him a perfect sweep of the season after finishing 10th in last year’s inaugural race at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana.

Larson started third behind Abreu and Brent Marks but was embroiled in a fierce battle with Anthony Macri for third during the first dozen laps. Larson slipped by Macri in traffic until a red flag waved for a flip by Lachlan McHugh.

Meanwhile at the front of the pack, Marks retook the lead from Abreu on Lap 18. Larson followed one lap later and then caution waved again. Tyler Courtney lost power and fell to 24th after starting eighth.

Marks scooted away on the restart but tragedy struck in Lap 26. Leading the race, Marks hit a pothole in Turn 1, bicycled and then flipped, handing the lead to Larson.

Abreu caught Larson again during the final laps and in a reprise of their battle at Tri-City Speedway, the two threw sliders at one another for several laps until Larson built some separation and ran away to the checkers.

“I didn’t feel like my pace in [Turns] 1 & 2 slowed down a ton,” Larson said from victory lane. “I missed it once there and then I saw his nose in 3 & 4. I didn’t know if he nailed the bottom that well behind me and I think he might have slid me in the next corner, so he was definitely on the top.

“I was nervous to move up there because my car was really pogoing up in the entry of 1. I got up just in time, made a few mistakes and he threw a couple more sliders at me but he was just a little too far back and I was able to squirt around him. Then I really had to commit to hitting my marks – back my effort down a bit to avoid mistakes.”

After leading early, Abreu fell back as far as sixth, but faith in his car kept hope alive.

“I just needed to do a few things a few laps before I did and fix some angles, then my car got a whole lot better,” Abreu said. “I’m thankful for this team; they do an amazing job. They don’t give up on me. I know my car is going to be there right at the end of these races, so it’s just the discipline of being patient.”

For Abreu, it was his third near-miss this season. He was leading at Lakeside in the 2023 opener until a tire went flat in the closing laps and he lost the lead to Larson late in the Tri-City Speedway race. Abreu has finished sixth or better in his last three High Limit races with each result being progressively better until his pair of runner-up results.

Third-place finisher Scelzi was the hard charger, advancing from 17th.

“I had a very specific plan; don’t go near [the hole in Turn 1],” Scelzi said. “It worked out. No one wanted to start on the top. I think I gained a couple of rows there on the choose cone and ran the middle, which seemed to be better than right around the bottom.”

Michael “Buddy” Kofoid in fourth and Macri rounded out the top five.

World of Outlaws star and former NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne was one of 41 entrants, but he was not among the 26 starters. He failed to advance to the Main after finishing eighth in the B Main and seventh in his heat.

Feature Results

A Feature (40 Laps): 1. 57-Kyle Larson[4]; 2. 24-Rico Abreu[1]; 3. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[17]; 4. 71-Michael Kofoid[5]; 5. 39M-Anthony Macri[3]; 6. 9-Chase Randall[9]; 7. 26-Zeb Wise[14]; 8. 1X-Jake Bubak[15]; 9. 8-Aaron Reutzel[10]; 10. 14D-Corey Day[18]; 11. 11-Cory Eliason[12]; 12. 5T-Ryan Timms[11]; 13. 88-Austin McCarl[13]; 14. 21H-Brady Bacon[22]; 15. 48-Danny Dietrich[16]; 16. 7S-Robbie Price[19]; 17. 21-Brian Brown[23]; 18. 22-Riley Goodno[26]; 19. 52-Blake Hahn[25]; 20. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[21]; 21. 3J-Dusty Zomer[6]; 22. 14-Cole Macedo[7]; 23. 19-Brent Marks[2]; 24. 7BC-Tyler Courtney[8]; 25. 25-Lachlan McHugh[20]; 26. 53-Jack Dover[24]

2023 High Limit Sprint Car Series

Race 1: Giovanni Scelzi wins at Lakeside Speedway
Race2: Anthony Macri wins at 34 Raceway
Race 3: Kyle Larson wins at Wayne County Speedway
Race 4: Kyle Larson wins at Tri-City Speedway