How will the Busch Brothers reality show unfold for 2012?

Kurt and Kyle Busch awaiting qualifying
For the Sprint Cup Series in June 2010 at Pocono
(Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images)
For race fans the reality show of the Busch Brothers in NASCAR never ceases to amaze whether you are a fan or not.  Fans of Kurt and Kyle focus on their obvious on-track talent and drive to win, while others focus more on their unchecked anger management issues.  However, even some long time Busch fans are embarrassed with what occurred in 2011 with both brothers, and some are looking for another driver to call their favorite. But, everyone agrees Kurt and Kyle are extraordinarily talented with their driving skills in NASCAR’s elite series’.  And race fans will be tuning in next season to watch their story continue to unfold. 

With the 2011 season now in the rear view mirror, Kurt and Kyle now find themselves in a career-critical position and their choices moving forward will make or break their dreams of a future within the NASCAR world.  Kyle’s moment of truthcame during the fall race weekend in Texas with his intentional wreck with championship contender Ron Hornaday.  Kurt was forced to face his demons in the wake of the final race of the season in Homestead when a fan video-recorded his profanity-laced frustration toward Dr. Jerry Punch because of a delayed interview.  The video went viral and Kurt’s fate was ultimately revealed quickly after champions’ week in Las Vegas.



Kyle Busch sitting out the Sprint Cup Race
at Texas Motor Speedway 2011
(NASCAR Photo)
While Kyle’s fate lay in the hands of his owner with Joeand JD Gibbs expertly managing their way to an agreement with disappointed sponsors to keep them and Kyle within their stable, it is also clear that Kyle’s issues must be addressed going forward.  In fact, reports indicate JGR is requesting Kyle to not race in Truck series and perhaps even the Nationwide races for the 2012 season, to reduce the chance of another loose cannon episode.  Whether Kyle will heed the advice and suggestion of his owner is yet to be determined and undoubtedly fans will stay tuned, to find out what happens next with Kyle.

Brother Kurt, on the other hand has now been shown the door with two top-tier NASCAR teams.  In 2005 Kurt, the Sprint Cup Champion of 2004 was forced out of the final two races of the season after being stopped for suspicion of drunken driving, cited for reckless driving and subsequently belligerently berating the police in Phoenix. This episode ended with Roush Racing’s then team president, Geoff Smith proclaiming, we’re “officially retiring as Kurt Busch’s apologists.” 



Kurt Busch burned the bridge with
Roush and Penske Racing Teams
(Ashley Dickerson/ASP Inc/Icon SM)
And now again, with a “mutual agreement” for his departure from Penske Racing, most fans know that Kurt’s behavior did not fit with the Penske organization professional policies.  Many fans understand that Kurt did not independently choose to leave his team, especially following a series of statements from Penske and sponsors of the #22 team indicating their disappointment with Kurt’s behavior at Homestead. Along with the departure of Kurt’s crew chief, Steve Addington, after a season of verbal abuse from the driver, more than likely the final straws fell breaking the bond for the Penske organization.  And while Roger Penske was supportive of Kurt Busch even in the end with the “mutual agreement” statements, there is a limit to how much unprofessionalism and verbal abuse any organization will tolerate when it’s costing more than they are gaining. And yes, it was obvious to anyone paying attention that Kurt was not a happy camper in the 2011 season.  And yes, it was evident he wasn’t having much fun in the #22 car a good part of the time.  So, it’s not hard to believe Kurt when he says he wasn’t having fun at Penske.
 
Kurt Busch celebrating a race win
(Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
What is hard to believe, however, is why Kurt doesn’t see the real reason behind his bad behavior. If you were paying attention to his part of this reality show, it’s apparent that Kurt was dealing with some major stress from some source, and perhaps his divorce was more influence than he cares to admit. Instead of dealing with his stress and the cause of his stress, Kurt chose to blame Penske, Addington, his crew, the car, indirectly Dr. Punch, anyone and everyone, except himself.  And while there may have been some real issues with the car, pit strategy, and perhaps even organizationally, Kurt’s reaction to those issues overshadow and inhibit real progress in addressing those concerns.  Stated in other words, similar to Kyle’s issues, Kurt is his own worst enemy in achieving his desire to win more races and contend for a championship. In reality, only Kyle and Kurt stand in the way of achieving their goals vs. everyone else they tend to blame for their unfortunate circumstances.  They are now saying they are taking accountability for their actions, but some fans are not so sure.

Kyle Busch waving to fans at Richmond 2011
(Photo – Associated Press)
Although fans can see the big picture of how Kurt and Kyle’s personal behavior have led them to this point, some are just not convinced that either of them is really taking ownership of their actions and consequences…yet.  Sure, both have said they are taking action to address their issues.  But, unfortunately, it’s not the first time hearing those words from either brother.  Many fans, perhaps not all, have experienced the disappointment in being fooled by their “charade of change.” How many times have fans heard about the “new” Kyle Busch or of those not sure if they would be dealing with the “old” or “new” Kyle at any given moment? Unfortunately, the same can be said of older brother Kurt.

As a NASCAR fan, finding out that Kurt’s behavior with Dr. Punch was typical of what many in the media have experienced at one time or another was disappointing and more importantly, disturbing.  Hearing that bad behavior had become “accepted” as what to potentially expect from either brother was a painful reality to learn. This sounded eerily similar to an abused spouse speaking of their loved one, and defending the dysfunction in their family. Some in the media even defended the bad behavior as a symptom of celebrity stress

Folks, it’s time to be real honest here.  One’s celebrity and the stress that co-exists with it do not give anyone the right to verbally abuse another individual. No one should be subjected to verbal abuse by anyone at any time and it certainly should not be an accepted point of view nor should it continue for an indefinite period of time without resolution. The dysfunction within the NASCAR family is now exposed for all to see the reality of acceptability for bad behavior. As any compassionate human being to another, fans want to see this dysfunction addressed in a positive way to benefit all.

Mount Cope Website describes emotional abuse
Many ask why is it different for the Busch brothers compared to others that have expressed their frustrations over the many years of NASCAR’s existence.  The answer is two-fold.  First, as a society we have evolved to a greater realization of the damage that results from this type of abusive behavior. The damage not only affects the abused, but the very nature of the abuse is a symptom indicating there are some personal issues that need to be addressed so the abuser can reform their perspective and future behavior. We know that ignoring the problem does nothing to address those issues and enables the bad behavior to perpetuate and ultimately diminish the lives of all involved.
 
Change bad habits by adopting positive and
empowering habits that will bring what you want in life
Millionaire Secrets Website gives some great tips
to help with your new year resolutions
For the second point, I’m reminded of my High School chemistry teacher addressing excuses for not completing homework assignments in a timely manner.  The point made by this teacher is something that has held true for many situations throughout the years and certainly appropriate for this situation.  At the beginning of the school year, this teacher told students the guideline used to address repeat offenders.  “The first offense is considered an accident inconsistent with usual behavior.  The second offense just might be a coincidence and will be forgiven.  However, if the same offense occurs a third time, it is now considered a bad habit. And bad habits need to be addressed.” 


Such is the case for the Busch brothers.  They have established their bad habit with repeated offenses which are now indefensible. Denying the problem, and blaming others is only further evidence the problem exists and  an indication of resistance to change. Those showing resistance to change often require a startling wake-up call and professional support to make a personal commitment to change their lives for the better.  One great outcome from a successful experience in breaking bad habits and creating new healthy habits, is that past offenders often make great spokespersons to help others recognize, commit and change, thus benefiting many others with the similar challenges.

Recent attempts at public relations spin are evidence to some that Kurt is still in a bit of denial. Many fans and media personalities do not buy his or the Penske organization statement of “mutual agreement” to part ways and at best, find the terminology to be a stretch of the truth. These comments more accurately appear to be supporting Kurt’s own personal need to save face that he’s been booted from his second top tier organization. 

“The King” Richard Petty
(photo – Getty Images)
Furthermore, Kurt has turned down an offer with Richard Petty Motorsports, of which many are all too happy to hear. Upon hearing the news of the potential partnership, many were shocked to hear either party was entertaining the possibility. Most fans cringe to think of Kurt speaking to “The King” as he has spoken to Roger Penske. No one is a fan Kurt’s repeated language of profanity with the Phoenix police, his crew, Steve Addington, Roger Penske or Dr. Jerry Punch and most likely others.  To put Kurt Busch in the position of potentially further debasing himself and this legendary team would be a major mistake for all parties and in the end no one saw this partnership ending well for anyone. While Kurt’s account of turning down the offer is true, fans recognize the positioning actually masks the issue at hand in that sponsor Best Buy ultimately left RPM and potential sponsorship at this late date cannot be limited to those willing to take the risk associated with a driver known as a loose cannon with profanity laced outbursts. 

Based on all that has transpired, Kurt’s next partnership will be the make or break moment of his career. Kurt has chosen to go with owner James Finch of Phoenix Racing and will be the next driver of the #51 car with crew chief Nick Harrison. With the sponsor Rydex SGI, the risk still remains and Kurt cannot afford any outbursts that have haunted his past. Finch’s comments are refreshingly to the point and without the spin, as he says he has talked with Busch about his past. “He lost a job and he’s lost several million dollars, and so I think that’s been a wake-up call. I told him, I said Kurt it’s about winning racing. You need to watch your temper and your mouth,” Finch said. “I hired him for his foot and not his mouth.  Hopefully we can get him controlled. He’s got a long way to come. He’s got to show people he’s going to be a driver. And show NASCAR that he’s a driver, and he’s going to do what’s expected as a driver.” These comments sound as though Finch will not tolerate much of the same problems from Kurt and certainly appears to be a better fit to ensure Kurt makes the behavior changes needed to bring greater success to his career. So again, much like his brother Kyle, the reality is that addressing personal issues is a must for their future within the sport. 

Kurt and Kyle have both been given another chance to prove themselves on a more personal level by addressing their anger management. Both are supported by teams with top-level equipment, keeping in mind that Phoenix Racing has a partnership with Hendrick Motorsports.  Along with their talent, they have every reason to be successful for many years to come, provided they truly meet their challenges head on and address them in a positive manner.  As fans, we “get it” that it won’t necessarily be easy nor will it be without an occasional, and hopefully rare slip backward, but we do have high expectations for a positive outcome.

As with many reality shows, fans relate to the challenges presented, because we have our own problems to cope with and overcome. And this is the time of year to make our own resolutions for change to improve our lives too. Fans want to be personally successful and we pull for others to meet and exceed their challenges too.  The issues may not be exactly the same, but the desire to overcome is the same and it’s why we continue to be invested in watching reality shows play out their stories. 

What will 2012 bring for the Busch Brothers?
The NASCAR Busch Brothers reality show will continue in 2012 and beyond.  Even if you’re not their fan, many people want to see Kurt and Kyle overcome their issues and succeed in their careers. Most like happy endings, especially those rooted in reality.  Fans understand the Busch brothers’ intense desire for winning and acknowledge their talent. Most recognize when these brothers overcome their problems and keep their intensity to win on a positive note, they will be an unstoppable force within the sport. Fans also recognize they have tried and failed more than once to address their anger management issues.

So as we consider our own resolutions and those of the Busch Brothers, there is an element of interest in finding out what happens next for Kurt and Kyle. The importance of their personal attention and commitment to change behavior will be the key that will determine not only the future of their racing careers, but of personal lives as well. Come next year, fans will be tuning in for the next episode of the Busch Brothers reality show with anticipation to find out how their stories continue to unfold within the NASCAR world of racing.

NOTE to Readers: The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and not intended to represent all NASCAR fans. Although some will agree with this perspective, it is recognized that others will not. For those who disagree with the perspective presented here, you are encouraged to submit a counter-point perspective. Whether you agree or not, everyone is encouraged to respectfully state your view via the comments section below. To submit a count-point article, please see submission details via the SUGGESTION BOX tab. 

As always, Thanks for reading and participating in the Fan4Racing blog site.  
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A career making opportunity for Allmendinger

AJ Allmendinger NASCAR Daytona Speedweek
February 18, 2011 – Day 7

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America)


Sometimes silly seasons get too silly. And such is the case for the offseason between 2011 and 2012. Scenarios no one could have predicted are happening and opening the door for some drivers to prove themselves. For AJ Allmendinger, silly season has handed him the best chance of his career when recently named as driver of the #22 Dodge at Penske Racing.
To date Allmendinger has had an up and down NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career. He began in 2007 but struggled, ultimately being replaced at Red Bull Racing near the end of the season. Allmendinger did not give up despite the difficult start to his NASCAR career and has since proven himself worthy of competing at the top level, spending the last few seasons at Richard Petty Motorsports. In fact, 2011 was his best season to date accumulating one top-five, ten top-tens, and a career best 15th place points finish. While there is still room for improvement, each season continues to get better for Allmendinger. From a 42nd place points finish in 2007 to 15th in 2011 shows Allmendinger is on track to make the most of his most recent team change and perhaps contend in the chase for the first time in his career.
AJ will team up with Brad Keselowski, who won multiple races and made the chase in 2011, along with his Penske teammate. There’s no doubt that Penske Racing is a top organization that has the tools to contend for a championship in 2012. For AJ Allmendinger, it’s undoubtedly his best chance yet at becoming a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winner and be a consistent front runner week in and week out. Allmendinger will have a new crew chief in Todd Gordon, who most recently led the #22 Nationwide team for Penske, winning five races with Keselowski. It may take a few races to get acclimated, but one has to believe this pairing can be successful as the 2012 season gets underway.
For AJ Allmendinger, it’s truly a spectacular opportunity that will undoubtedly determine his longevity as a successful driver in NASCAR. The 2012 season certainly has all the makings to be his breakout season.

News and Views – Volume 5

For the week of December 11, 2011 – Volume 5

With this volume of News and Views, Fan4Racing is inviting all NASCAR fans to tell us about your favorite 2011 NASCAR Season memory. Did you have a favorite race you attended, or watched from home this past season?  Many are saying 2011 is one of the most competitive seasons for NASCAR for many years; do you agree with this assessment?  Fan4Racing is in search of guest bloggers and encourage you to tell your story in upcoming weeks and throughout the 2012 season. Visit the SUGGESTION BOX tab for contact information to submit your story. This is a safe environment for you to tell your story, improve your writing skills and share your thoughts among fellow fans, also sharing a passion for our favorite sport of NASCAR racing. 


Fan4Racing and our contributing bloggers continue to wish everyone a Happy Holiday filled with joy for the days leading up to celebrations with your family and friends. 


Volume 6 of News and Views will be posted on January 2nd, 2012.  Thanks for reading and sharing your views.  

Mike Ford out Darian Grubb is in, as Hamlin’s Crew Chief
With Mike Ford being released from Joe Gibbs Racinglast week, Darian Grubb was quickly announced as the replacement crew chief for Denny Hamlin.  Mike Ford indicated to the Associated Press he’s …”kind of relieved, It had been dragging on for so long, I’ actually relieved there’s finally a resolution.” Darian Grubb is saying, “I’m thrilled to join Joe Gibbs Racing.”  Grubb went on to say, “The chance to work with Denny is something I’m excited about.  When you sit down with Joe and J.D. Gibbs you can’t help but be excited about this opportunity and the team aspects of JGR.  There is no question about the level of support you get here and I’m looking forward to working with everyone across the entire organization.” 

Will Darian Grubb be able to do for Denny Hamlin what he did for Tony Stewart bringing a Championship to the #11 Fed Ex Team?

Speculation of Ragan to Penske & Kurt Busch to Phoenix Racing
Reports indicate David Ragan has met with Penske Racingofficials, but as of today, there has been no announcement from Penske as to who will be the driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil car for 2012.  Apparently Kurt Busch has expressed some interest in working with James Finch, owner of Phoenix Racing.  Finch however is waiting to see the results of Ragan’s meeting at Penske before making a decision regarding Busch, because they had previously expressed their interest in David Ragan.  Ragan is expected to meet with Shell Pennzoil this week.  Meanwhile Finch has said, “I haven’t decided who I am going to put in my car next year.  He (Busch) wasn’t necessarily at the top of the list.”  Finch went on to say Busch’s behavior leading to what was described as “mutual” separation from Penske Racing wouldn’t discourage him from hiring him, but also said he wouldn’t tolerate Busch’s sometimes volatile behavior.  Finch said, “Kurt, his talent is pretty good, he’s one of the best there is, but I’m not going to listen to that s— and pay him money.”  Finch has also indicated he has also talked with David Reutimann and Brian Vickers.

When the music stops in this musical chairs situation, who will have a seat in 2012 and who will be left standing and still in search of a seat?

“Fast Freddie” Lorenzen is honored by Illinois General Assembly
The 1965 Daytona 500 winner, Fred Lorenzen was honoredat Chicagoland Speedway last week for his accomplishments as a NASCAR driver from 1958 to 1972.  Illinois State Representative, Dennis Reboletti said, “He is an Illinois sports legend and we recognize him for his lifetime of accomplishments. Chicagoland Speedway President, Scott Paddock went on to say, “Fred Lorenzen is a true NASCAR and Illinois sports legend, and we’re thrilled to be part of today’s presentation honoring his accomplishments. Fred was one of the first pioneers of NASCAR and his contributions have helped to make it the great sport that is today.”  Also at the presentation were two of Lorenzen’s old friends from his days at Holman-Moody Racing, Charlie ‘Slick’ Owens and Waddell Wilson.  Lorenzen is nominated for the NASCAR Hall of Fame and fans want to see him inducted with the class of 2013.  Fan4Racing includes an article with more information about this sports legend.

Will you be voting for Fred Lorenzen to be inducted in the 2013 class for the NASCAR Hall of Fame? Why?

NASCAR Media vote for the Top-Ten moments of 2011
Members of the NASCAR Media conducted a week-long poll to cast ballots for the top-ten moments of the 2011 season.  The countdown results of the media voting are as follows:

#10 – 2010 Sunoco Rookies Stenhouse and Dillon win 2011 Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series Championships

#9 – Danica Patrick posts Best Finish in NASCAR by a female driver with fourth place at Las Vegas

#8 – Austin Dillon becomes Youngest NASCAR Camping World Truck Champion

#7 – Paul Menard holds off Jeff Gordon to win Brickyard 400

#6 – Jimmie Johnson’s .0002 second margin of victory in the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega

#5 – Regan Smith’s Darlington Southern 500 win

#4 – Jeff Gordon’s 85th NASCAR Sprint Cup win

#3 – Brad Keselowski’s win at Pocono after breaking his left ankle in a testing accident

#2 – Trevor Bayne’s Daytona 500 win

#1 – Tony Stewart’s Homestead-Miami win to clinch the Championship

Do you agree with NASCAR Media’s voting results?  If not, how would you vote?

SAFER Barrier tethers are in need of inspection
Dr. Dean Sicking, director of the Midwest RoadsideSafety Facility at the University of Nebraska, is one of the people involved in developing the Steel and Foam Energy Reduction, a.k.a. ‘SAFER’ barrier system currently in place at all NASCAR facilities. The project has proven effective in reducing driver injuries throughout the years of its existence.  Most tracks installed SAFER barrier systems between 2003 and 2004.  Dr. Sicking said “the SAFER barriers have three major components: structural steel tubing, closed-cell polystyrene foam blocks and nylon retention tethers.  The foam blocks begin to lose their effectiveness for dissipating energy after about five years, but the nylon tethers are also affected by the elements, particularly sunlight.”  Dr. Sicking went on to say, “…the tethers are now in need of inspection.  Almost all of the tracks have replaced the foam once.  I’ve informally inspected the tethers during my walks around the tracks, and the tethers are now reaching a point where they need to be looked at.”  Sicking also said, “…tracks shouldn’t be overly concerned about tether replacement, but they should be aware that it could become an issue in the future.  Because the tethers help hold the SAFER barrier in place, the failure of multiple tethers could result in a disastrous situation, particularly if it happened during a race weekend.  For example, a track the size of Daytona may have several thousand tethers in place – and if they failed, it could create chaos.  The good thing? Tethers are relatively inexpensive, and it’s something each track can budget for in advance.”

Did you learn anything new about SAFER barriers with this news story? If so, what was ‘new’ to you as a fan of the sport?

Driver appearances set for NASCAR Preview 2012 Presented by Sprint:
NASCAR Acceleration Preview 2012, presented by Sprintis a new addition to the annual calendar and is taking place the weekend of January 20-22, 2012 with several driver appearances.  The event will take place in Charlotte, NC with the following drivers confirmed as attending, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and 2011 Champion Tony Stewart along with eleven other top drivers of the sport.  The star-studded lineup of NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers are scheduled for two-hour appearances at the fan-centric all day event located inside the Charlotte ConventionCenter.  Appearances include driver autograph and on-stage question-and-answer sessions.  Fans will see a festival-like event with driver and show-car appearances, simulators, games, prizes and a host of other fan-friendly and interactive activities featuring legends of the sport and stars of today.  Additional driver appearances will include the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series’, plus all four living NASCAR Hall of Fame members inducted the previous night, will be announced at a later date. 

Will you be attending this inaugural NASCAR event in Charlotte, NC in 2012?

Please share your thoughts about these news stories in the comments section below….As always Thanks for reading and participating. 

Carl Edwards: What You May Not Know

Carl Edwards Photo from roushfenway.com

NASCAR fans know Carl Edwards just completed another fantastic year, almost winning the Sprint Cup title. In fact, he was paper-thin close to Champion Tony Stewart by earning equal points for the year, only to lose the tie to Stewarts’ five wins, compared to only one win for his season total. But did you know there’s more than meets the eye to this versatile driver?

Starting with Carl Edwards early days, did you know his father was an accomplished racer as well?  Carl Edwards Sr. raced modified stock cars and USAC midgets for four decades, winning over 200 feature events at several Midwestern tracks. 


Carl Edwards Sr. recalls a time when he was, shall we say ‘creative’ with the rules to give Carl Jr. time behind the wheel before he was the required 16 years of age. “You had to have a drivers license, so we would sneak him in the back of the truck. When it got dark we would put a helmet on him and put him in the race car. They all thought it was me, said Edwards Sr., who still lives in Columbia, Missouri where Carl Edwards Jr. grew up. After Carl Jr. won a race in Godfrey, Illinois and gave a victory interview, Carl Sr., knew  he had to be more creative to get his son into tracks so he could continue to race. He even went so far as to get a fake drivers license for his son, still under the required age for driving in races.    

Carl Edwards Jr. actually started his racing career at the age of 13, driving four-cylinder cars and collecting 18 feature wins in just three years. Over the next six years, Carl Edwards would gain his experience in Modified (two-barrel), Dirt Late Model class, NASCAR’s Weekly Racing Series, Pro-Modified (four-barrel) division, three Sportsman division races (winning all three), eleven Baby Grand division races, and five USAC Silver Crown Series pavement races. Throughout these years, Edwards would pick up another, 40 wins, 3 Championships and two Rookie-of-the-Year honors. 

It was in 2002 Carl Edwards caught the eye of Jack Roush while driving in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for MB Motorsports, earning a top-ten finish in Kansas and showcasing his driving skills to one of NASCAR’s elite teams.  Edwards also ran one Busch series event that year.

Jack Roush of Roush-Fenway Racing

Jack Roush signed Carl Edwards to run full-time in the Truck series and he won the Rookie-of-the-Year along with three race wins in 2003.  The following year, Edwards won three more races including the season opener at Daytona and finished fourth in the point standings.  Edwards also ran one Busch series event in 2004.

Carl Edwards’ first Cup appearance would happen in August of the same year at the season’s second Michigan race. Earning a tenth place finish, Edwards joins Matt Kenseth, Rusty Wallace, Terry Labonte and Kyle Petty as one of only five drivers to finish inside the top-ten in their first career Cup start.

How many of us recall that in 2005, Carl Edwards technically tied for second in the seasons’ Cup point standings with Greg Biffle, just 35 points behind first place champion, Jimmie Johnson. Greg Biffle would end up taking the second-place spot with six wins in the season.  Despite this great finish in his first year, Edwards was not eligible for Rookie-of-the-year honors because of his partial 2004 schedule in the Cup series.
 
And did you know how many Cup records Carl Edwards would earn in his first full-time year?  Let’s start with Edwards becoming the only driver in history to get his first win in both Nationwide and Sprint Cup in the same weekend at the March Atlanta races. Edwards would also go on to sweep both cup races at Atlanta, a track first.  With Edwards second win of the season he would become only the second driver in history to win on Poconos’ tri-oval on his first visit, with Richard Petty winning the inaugural Cup race at the unique track. These accomplishments in Edwards first full year in NASCAR’s top series’ was history in the making for the young driver.

Edwards won his first title in 2007 as the Nationwide series champion and would finish second the following year by only 21 points, the fourth closest finish in the series history.  In 2008, Edwards also finished second to Jimmie Johnson in the Cup series despite his personal high nine wins for the season.  Three of those wins were earned in the last four races of the Chase.  Do you remember Edwards’ accomplishments in 2008 being recognized with the Tag Heuer Top Racecar Driver of the Year Award?  Or perhaps you remember the National Motorsports Press Association honoring Edwards by voting him as the Richard Petty Driver of the Year. Edwards was also NASCAR.com’s Driver of the Year.
 
Carl Edwards wreck in Tallagdega 2009

Edwards’ fans may recall 2009 was not a banner year for Carl Edwards in the Cup series, finishing 11th in the Chase standings at the close of the season.  And, at the spring Talladega race, many remember one of the most violent crashes in NASCAR history when Brad Keselowski spun Edwards car, bouncing off Ryan Newman and flipping airborne into the catch fence.  Fans also remember Carl emerging from the car to the cheers of the crowd and sprinting on foot to the start/finish line.  But did you know eight fans were injured in that incident? The worst injury was a woman with a broken jaw; she was airlifted to a nearby hospital.

In May of 2009, Carl Edwards signed a multi-year contract to remain with Roush-Fenway Racing with Aflac as the full-time sponsor. But did you know this was the largest sponsorship contract that Roush-Fenway Racing ever signed up to that point?  How many Edwards’ fans know that in the Nationwide series the same year, Carl achieved his best statistical season with five wins, 23 top-five and 30 top-ten finishes?
 
After a less than stellar start to his 2010 season, Carl Edwards found himself 12th in the Cup series standings by the end of June.  It would be several months before Edwards would end his 70-race winless streak by winning the last two races of the season in Phoenix and Homestead earning a fourth-place standing for the season.  In the Nationwide series, how many remember it was Edwards winning the first Nationwide race at Road America? Some may also remember he did not celebrate with his typical back flip, because in the same weekend Scott Kalitta was killed in a horrifying NHRA accident and Edwards did not feel it was appropriate to celebrate his victory.

And of course the 2011 season is fresh in all our minds as just completed with Carl narrowly losing the Cup championship to Tony Stewart. Many also know Carl Edwards re-signed with Roush-Fenway Racing in August. But did you know the deal is reportedly worth over $40 million with Ford convincing Edwards to stay with RFR for the remainder of his career? Also, we know Carl was reportedly courted by Joe Gibbs Racing. But did you hear the rumors of JGR offering Edwards $8 million per year with a $10 million signing bonus?
  
Also, with the 2011 season coming to a close, it may have slipped past a few of us that if NASCAR had not changed the points system back in 2004, Carl Edwards would have two championships under his belt. He would have won the championship in 2008 breaking up Jimmie Johnson’s now historic five-time championship run and 2011 would have been his second championship under the old point system.  For Edwards’ fans, this is the “If only” season that “could” have been.
 
While veteran fans may know some of these additional Carl Edwards discoveries, hopefully there are a few new nuggets you can add to your Edwards trivia reservoir. 

For instance, did you know that Carl Edwards, along with a close friend started their own company record label in high school called Back40 Records?  Edwards is now the sole owner and spends some of his off track time promoting his company and label. 

Dr. Katherine “Kate” Downey and Carl Edwards

Also, Edwards once dated Olympic swimmer and gold medalist Amanda Beard.  We do know that relationship did not work out as Carl is now happily married to Dr. Katherine “Kate” Downey and they have two beautiful children Anne Katherine, and Michael Lee. But did you know it was actually Kenny Wallace, during a 2008 NASCAR Victory Lane episode, that leaked the news in a conversational manner that Carl was engaged to Dr. Kate?


Many of us know Carl is first cousin to NASCAR driver Ken Schrader, earning him the nickname of “Cousin Carl.” But did you know Carl took his cousin’s advice to get dirt track experience before entering the world of NASCAR?


And speaking of cousins, did you hear the rumor that Carl is also a cousin with NFL Quarterback, Trent Edwards?  Apparently in an AOL Sports interview, Carl was asked if his cousin, Trent Edwards has the same allergies… When Carl replied with “My old cousin Trent…he probably has the same kind of stuff I do,” Roush Fenway’s Senior Account Manager Randy Fuller indicated he didn’t know they were related.  Carl’s response…”I’m not.  I’m just rollin’ with it.” Ok, so that one really is just a rumor.

What about Carl Edwards the actor? On the Fox TV series hit “24” he played Jim Hill, a Homeland Security Agent.  His parts were actually taped the same weekend of the Auto Club 500.  Carl Edwards has also appeared on the Bill Engvall Show as a club manager and in the movie “Small Pond” he portrayed Kenny.  Did you know Edwards’ has another acting role coming up in 2013?  The projected air date is that summer, in a Civil War-themed television mini-series, “To Appomattox.”

These are not Carl Edwards’ only television appearances. In November 2009, Carl appeared on “The Price is Right” presenting two NASCAR-theme showcases for the game show.  Anyone know who were the lucky winners?  And of course, Carl has appeared in numerous talk shows and magazines throughout his career. 

How many know that one of Carl’s closest friends is WWE wrestler John Cena? Apparently Carl is a fan of the sport and first met Cena while taping for Fast Cars and Superstars: The Gillette Young Guns Celebrity Race in 2007.  As a result of the relationship, In 2009 Carl appeared at the WWE Wrestlemania XXV event in Houston, Texas, while also racing with NASCAR earlier the same day.  Further showing his fondness for the sport, Edwards was also the guest host of the WWE Monday Night Raw in February 2010

In June 2010, as a fitness advocate, Carl Edwards was appointed to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, a committee of volunteer athletes, chefs, physicians, and fitness experts advising the President via the Secretary of Health and Human Services. 

At a Zac Brown concert in November 2010, part of the Coca-Cola Fuels NASCAR Championship Drive in Miami Beach, Carl surprised many in the crowd when he grabbed a guitar during the song “Chicken Fried” and joined the band on stage.  Who knew he was so talented?

Being honest, who knew this? According to the Federal Aviation Administration registry, Edwards is also licensed as an Airline Transport Pilot with a multi-engine rating. Apparently this license authorizes Edwards to pilot Cessna Citation jets. 

Carl Edwards enjoys spending time in his home town, Columbia, Missouri, with his family.  His hobbies include bicycling, working out, reading and he is passionately involved in philanthropic activities with Speedway Children’s Charities, Dream Factory and Victory Junction Gang Camp.

So, with all these talents and interests, how did Carl Edwards make it into the sport of NASCAR? It wasn’t enough to have a father hand off his love of racing to his son.  Nor was it enough to be related to his first cousin Kenny Schrader. Carl did some creative leg work to get his name into the hands of the right people. Edwards would pass out his business cards to NASCAR teams saying, “If you’re looking for a driver, then you’re looking for me.”  That card made it into the hands of his current team owner Jack Roush and as they say, the rest is history.

We all know Carl Edwards isn’t finished writing his NASCAR history and as fans, we are looking forward to seeing many more seasons of racing with this drivers’ star continuing to rise. 

*The information for this blog was obtained from the official Carl Edwards website, his Wikipedia page, Roush Fenway Bio page and this local article, by Ben Fedrickson.  

News and Views – Volume 4

For the week of December 5, 2011 – Volume 4

With Champions Week completed, drivers are now back home or on their holiday vacations. Fan4Racing wishes everyone a joyful holiday season as we continue our off-season wait for the new season to begin. Continue reading