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Who's No. 1? Well, it's still Clint Bowyer, but Carl Edwards, above, helped himself with a win at Memphis.
If Carl Edwards
can mount a miraculous comeback to snatch the Nationwide Series title from Clint Bowyer
's grasp these final three weeks, he'll be gunning for a three-peat come 2009.
Otherwise, Edwards will simply be looking for his second championship in three seasons behind the wheel of Roush Fenway Racing's No. 60 Ford. While teammate David Ragan
will share the No. 6 entry with Erik Darnell
next year so he can devote his full focus to the Sprint Cup Series, Edwards will do full-time double duty for the fifth straight year.
And he wouldn't have it any other way.
"First of all, for me right now there's really no question whether I was gonna run the full season or not," Edwards said at Atlanta Motor Speedway. "With Drew [Blickensderfer, the team's crew chief] and Darrell Morrow, the car chief, and all the guys who work on that 60 car, we have such a good time racing that as long as we can do it, I'm gonna do it. That's what I foresee right now.
"I really enjoy racing on Saturday, so I'm not too concerned about the way the funding is working out because of the structure at Roush Fenway. A lot of our information, we have catalogued and we can share from the Cup side over to the Nationwide side, so I'm not too concerned about that. I know Jack [Roush] well enough and Drew and all these guys well enough to know that we aren't gonna go out there and race for 10th place. We're gonna have what it takes, and if we don't have it, we'll go get it no matter how we have to do it. We've got great sponsors with Scotts, Save-a-lot and those folks, so, hopefully, that will be able to fund it at a level that's as competitive as it is now."
That level of competitiveness has Edwards 116 points behind Bowyer after gaining 80 points with his win at Memphis. And Roush is as bullish on running for next year's title as Edwards is. When it comes to racing, the two are clearly cut from the same cloth.
"Carl, like Jack here, Carl is just a racing dog," Roush said, before Edwards cut into Bowyer's lead at Memphis. "If there's time and energy available to go run for a championship in a series, he's gonna do it -- at least with the mindset he has today -- and we're anxious to support that.
"Clint Bowyer is doing a great job over there and has got a big head start on us -- a big lead on us here -- but Carl is anxious to go win another Nationwide Series and would very much like to win a championship in both Nationwide and Cup in the same year, so we'll try that again next year if it doesn't work out this year."
Davis finishes 23rd in Nationwide debut
didn't attract much on-track attention during his debut at Memphis Motorsports Park, and that's pretty much a good thing. A great qualifying lap left him fourth at the start, but the handling of his car suddenly went away for a stretch and that cost him several laps. All told, he ended the race four laps behind the leaders -- but only six drivers did finish on the lead lap.
"I kept adding rear brake to it but it didn't make any difference," Davis said of his sudden handling woes. "I guess we ended up having a right-front tire go down on us during that long, green-flag run. There wasn't much we could do about it there. After the tire change, we were good. We just lost too many laps in the process.
"I kind of thought it was the tire, but it wasn't going down very quickly, so I didn't want to say something and have it not be a tire problem. I still feel bad for these guys, but for me, it was a learning experience."
Davis hopes he started the process of earning respect from the Nationwide Series regulars.
"I ran up front at the start, but then we fell back and I realized we didn't have a winning car, so I let guys go when our car wasn't doing well. Then, at the end, when our car was running pretty
well, the same guys were letting me by. I guess that's what it's all about -- give-and-take. I definitely learned a lot. We'll just pack it up and take it on with us for the next time."
Mark Ashenfelter is an editor at ESPN. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.