Edwards will win title, but wreck at Charlotte means delayed gratification


Carl Edwards has known almost all season that he was fated to win this year's Busch Series title. The waiting game has been long and drawn out, and along the way it's led to the emergence of new battles -- such as an owners' points race.


NASCAR and Nationwide Insurance unveiled the logo Thursday that will grace the NASCAR Nationwide Series that for 27 years has been known as the Busch Series.

"It's good to be able to place a face to a name now," said Steve Phelps, NASCAR's chief marketing officer.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series debuts at Daytona next Feb.16. The series will wind its way to 35 races at 26 tracks located in 20 states and two foreign countries -- Canada and Mexico. All races are again scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN2 and ABC.


Dale Earnhardt Jr. has taken his last ride with Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s Busch Series program. The star who will leave DEI for Hendrick Motorsports after this season is not scheduled to race any more Busch events this year. He finished third last week at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

"I want to thank DEI and anyone who has ever had their hands in the Busch program since I even started there," he said. "That's been a lot of fun. Every time I drove that car, I've always been treated well and always enjoyed it. I've never really walked out of that car angry or pissed at anyone.

"The team has always enjoyed the experience and so have I, so I just want to thank everybody for that."


It wasn't long ago that everything was a learning experience for David Reutimann. He could have been running first and wrecked and been happy for the lesson.

Now, with a strong Busch Series season nearly under his belt, his expectations are growing.

Last week, he said driver error cost him what could have been a high finish and he was frustrated after finishing 12th.

"I'm not thinking too much about the points -- I'm thinking more about the fact that tonight the driver was an idiot," he said. "I got loose and got into the fence. There's just no excuse for that … I'm proud of my guys and they really fought back tonight. I just blew the chance at a real good finish and maybe even a win."

Now, Edwards is just hoping to put the drivers' points race to an end.

He entered the race at Lowe's Motor Speedway 696 points ahead of second, needing to leave with a 780-point advantage. Alas, he got caught up in a wreck and left nursing a 638-point lead.

"We had a car to beat," Edwards said. "It's unfortunate because the guys really did a great job and we could have had a great finish."

Now, Edwards has to put the Busch title out of mind for a week as the Nextel Cup Series takes the stage alone in Martinsville. Next week, when Busch racing resumes at Memphis, Edwards's magic number will be 585.
If he leaves with that advantage over second, he's the new Busch King.

"It's going to have to wait just a little longer," said Edwards, who added that he's not focused solely on winning the driver championship.

He's been in his No. 60 Ford all year long, and he got out of the gates strong: four wins, 11 top-5s and 13 top-10s in the first 15 races of the year. Of late, he's had some trouble: 20th or worse in eight of his last 16 events.

Meanwhile, with a driver-by-committee policy at both the No. 29 and No. 20 camps, no one pilot has been able to mount a title challenge.

Together, though, the drivers have taken the lead for their owners in the owners' points race.

Edwards' owner Jack Roush trails the No. 20 of Joe Gibbs by 64 points and the No. 29 of Richard Childress by 180.

"All that we can do as a team is our very best and if we do that, the points up will add up," said Jeff Burton, one of the driver for the No. 29 this year. "We can't control the other teams or worry about what the other teams are doing.

"We have to focus on what we are doing and do a good job. If we do that, then the results will follow."


Brad Coleman saw the writing on the wall. There would be no room for him to run a full Busch schedule at Joe Gibbs Racing next season. So even though he's had success there and made great friends, the 19-year-old upstart signed with Brewco Motorsports.

"We believe Brad is one of the hottest young prospects on the circuit and when we found out he was not going to be in a full ride at Gibbs, we made a run for him," said Brewco CEO Gary Baker.

Coleman is hoping to parlay this opportunity into a championship, and maybe a full-time Cup gig.

"I came to Brewco to drive full-time and win the Nationwide Championship," he said. "The new owners of Brewco have promised to do whatever it takes to put this team back into championship contention and I can guarantee you I will do my part to lead that effort."


Fitz Motorsports, with Mike Bliss and David Stremme behind the wheel of their No. 22 Dodge, is ranked eighth in the owners' standings and has been improving late in the season.

After a slow start, failing to qualify for the season-opener at Daytona, the organization bounced back and has one pole, four top-5s and 11 top-15 finishes. Crew chief Paul Wolfe has been the constant through this season's success, and he's signed on for another go next season.

Rupen Fofaria has covered NASCAR for ESPN.com since 2002. He can be reached at rupenisracin@yahoo.com.