Payback? Carl Edwards not concerned

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Carl Edwards had just won the pole for Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway, but he was more interested in showing Kyle Busch a picture on his cell phone than in talking about his lap.

Normally, you don't see these two laughing it up like this on pit road.

Normally, you see them discussing the merits of a controversial move or bump that allowed one to get the advantage over the other -- or wreck the other -- as we saw a few weeks ago at Phoenix.

That's why Edwards had to share the picture. He took it last Sunday while enjoying a day off in his hometown of Columbia, Mo. Seems one of his employees driving one of his company cars, a Ford Fusion like the one he drives for Roush Fenway Racing, had a fender bender.

When Edwards arrived at the scene of the accident, he discovered "this nice old woman" driving a Toyota Camry, like the one Busch drives for Joe Gibbs Racing, had initiated the contact.

"Check this out," Edwards said, showing the picture of the damage on both cars.

He proceeded to tell how his employee was "just driving along and this Camry just sideswiped me." He was insinuating it was no different than him and Busch on the track.

OK, it was a blatant but lighthearted shot at the driver known as "Rowdy."

"I show up and his door is smashed," Edwards said of his employee's car. "I thought that was pretty funny."

It was at least ironic enough that Edwards promised the woman one of Busch's autographed hats "in memory of Phoenix, Camry and Fusion." Busch agreed to help him out.

"It was just like a NASCAR race," Edwards said as he continued to look at the picture. "It was pretty cool."

Could we see more of the same on Sunday? Edwards is on a roll, coming off a Cup win at Las Vegas to go with a second at Daytona following two wins to end the 2010 season. Friday's pole run was his second in the past three races.

Busch is at worst a cofavorite to win, having swept the Cup, Nationwide and Truck series races at this half-mile Mecca in August.

Combined, the rivals have won six of the past eight Bristol races, with Busch winning three of the past four. And the two do have a history here. Edwards bumped Busch out of the way in 2008 to win the August night race.

Then there was that little incident at Phoenix in which Busch wrecked Edwards' pole-winning car.


"Oh, he needs to be concerned," Edwards said with a laugh. "Lots of payback here."

Bristol used to be a place where you expected payback. Before the track was repaved and changed from one groove to two and sometimes three, drivers could spin out the car ahead of them and simply say it was necessary to pass.

Can you say Dale Earnhardt and Terry Labonte?

But the last thing Edwards wants on Sunday is to get involved in payback with Busch or anybody else. He doesn't want to disrupt the momentum he's worked so hard to build.

"Kyle and I got into it one time … after the repave," Edwards said as he recalled his 2008 win. "The problem is the guy can get right back to you in the next corner. You don't want to start anything here. It would be too easy for somebody to finish it."

Edwards and Busch are more interested in finishing off this season with a Cup title than in starting a war with each other.

"I've got my own race to run," Busch said.

But Busch knows that race likely will include Edwards, reminding us that the Ford driver could have won the first three races with a little luck.

"Carl is pretty hot right now," Busch said.

Edwards is so hot that when he was asked if this is a weekend where it seems nothing can go wrong, he said, "Why do you have to stay stuff like that?"

"I'm gonna go back there and my motor home will be on fire," Edwards continued with a laugh. "I'll trip and break my foot again. I'm just enjoying this. I'm hoping it lasts. I'm gonna keep driving the way I'm driving until we win a championship or this car won't go this fast."

Or maybe until a Camry sideswipes his Fusion.

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.