NASCAR – Edwards Takes the Pole, Top Chasers Start Deep in the Field and Travis Pastrana Enters the NASCAR World

Carl Edwards wants to win. He wants it bad. And he doesn’t care who knows it. So to show everyone how bad he wants he he went out and took the pole position to start this Sundays Kobalt Tools 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. With no wins this season and only two races to go Edwards is determined not to go winless for the 2010 season. This is Carl Edwards’ 14th top-10 start in 2010. Nine of those have come in the past 12 races so the team is getting their act together at a time when the pressure is really on to get 1 in the W column for the season.

On the track the top 3 chasers have given themselves a lot of work to do if they plan on contending for a win.  With Johnson starting 21st, Hamlin in 17th and Harvick way back in 29th, they all will have to make serious on track gains in positions throughout the day and their crew chiefs will need to be at the top of their game with the changes they make as well.

In the meantime back in the garage the posturing and trash talking has been getting more attention than Jeff Gordon taking a swing at Jeff Burton on the track after their incident under caution last weekend at Texas.

“I can tell you right now, we’re paying attention to everything that’s going on, whether it’s something that’s said, heard, everything that’s going on on the race track,” said Harvick, third in the standings and 59 points behind leader Hamlin. “You just look for that one opening to pounce on somebody.”

And pounce he did during one of his better moments in a press conference all season.  Seeing that he has nothing to lose and everything to gain Harvick commented on Denny Hamlin and Crew Chief Mike Ford’s comments last weekend when the 48 pit crew was swapped out with Jeff Gordon’s crew after he ended the day in the garage.

“The only good thing that comes from being cocky like that is, you better win. Because if you don’t, you’re going to have to answer a lot of questions about your comments when you get done. So you create a lot more work than what you see initially when you say those things if it all doesn’t go your way,” Harvick said.

“I think when you’re trying to intimidate the guy who’s won four championships in a row, I think you ought to go out and rethink your strategy and just go out and worry about racing, because it’s really not something that is probably necessary. But he got all over Denny at Dover for saying the things he did about RCR and how it disrupted the team, and in my opinion, all the things he said seem to be a disruption to his team, and now Denny is going to have to come in here and answer all those questions.”

Harvick mocked Ford even more in a twitter post, days after it all began.

“I think Mike should take his own advice to his driver and not insert your foot into your mouth,” he said. “… There’s just nothing to be gained from it, as far as a team standpoint. I mean, it’s a crew chief, for God’s sake. I just don’t understand, I guess.”

Johnson seems to be taking it all in stride however expecting that at this stage in the game everyone is trying to get some kind of advantage they can, at any cost.  Using it to your advantage for motivation however is something that the 48 team thrives on.

“I expected comments to be made after the 11 won at Texas, and believe me, we have used those comments as motivation inside Hendrick Motorsports,” Johnson said. “[There have been] plenty of references to the comments made — guys thinking about it during their sets at the gym, when they’re changing tires on pit stops, there have been plenty of e-mails internally. It’s been a great motivational tool, and we certainly hope to show up this weekend.”

If there was a prize given for the best gamesmanship then the top 3 contenders would all be in the running for it.


The world of NASCAR may be about to be turned on it’s head with the announcement that Travis Pastrana has decided to enter the game for next season.  While NASCAR has been looking for  a way to appeal to the younger generation with the likes of Danica Patrick being added to the field they seem to always be looking for more talent to draw a crowd to fill more seats and improve on their television ratings.  And while Danica’s presence has improved both ratings and ticket sales it still has not broken into that all important 18 – 25 demographic the way they would like.  The big difference here is that Pastrana has won everywhere he has competed and we have yet to see that from Danica Patrick, and he fills seats with his fans where ever he goes.  He has competed in the types of events that will draw a younger audience and he has won at all levels on his way to where he is now.

Enter Travis Pastrana.  Having won gold medals in the X-Games, setting world records for jumping motorcycles and cars over anything and everything, and starring as a cultural icon for the action sports world, the star of MTV’s “Nitro Circus”, this modern day Evil Knieval has set his sights on NASCAR.

“I’ve been following NASCAR closely for years as a fan of the sport with competing in the sport a life-long dream,” Pastrana said. “I decided it was time to try and turn that dream into reality and with the help of the Bechtel family, Michael Waltrip Racing and Wasserman media group I’m now one step closer!”

Michael Waltrip is certainly no stranger to getting media attention to this sport, so he knows what he is talking about when he tells us about the media potential with Pastrana entering the game.

“Travis has built an enormous and unique following all over the world,” said Waltrip, a two-time Daytona 500 champion. “As a race team owner, we are always looking for ways to deliver to our partners and engage our fans better. This is an opportunity to showcase our company and our sport to a new generation of young fans. We’re also looking for that next big star. Travis already is one and action sports is full of talented athletes. Having Travis as a part of our program adds another great dimension to our team and NASCAR.”

The other drivers in the Nationwide series, including Sprint Cup pole sitter Carl Edwards, are also taking notice of the changes the wind is blowing their way.

“Pastrana is an icon, really, I think,” said Carl Edwards, scheduled to compete alongside Pastrana in the Race of Champions in Germany in late November. “What he’s done, the ability he has to transcend motocross and freestyle and rally racing, all these things that he’s done — I think it could be huge. He just has to do well. If he comes over here and can do well, that’ll be great. That’ll be great for him. It’ll be great for our sport, his fans. I think it’s just very, very difficult to do it. He’s a smart guy, so I’m sure he has a plan of trying to get some experience in testing and things like that.”


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