Carl Edwards on Kansas: ‘As big as the Daytona 500’

Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch head to Kansas Speedway looking to secure their spot in the Round of 8 with wins. 

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The old adage ‘there’s no place like home’ rings true for Carl Edwards this weekend as the Sprint Cup Series heads to Kansas Speedway for the second race in Round 2 of the Chase.

Edwards grew up two hours East of Kansas Speedway in Columbia, Missouri and has been seeking a win at the track since his first appearance there in 2004.

"A win (at Kansas) like I’ve said a bunch, that’d be as big as the Daytona 500 for me," Edwards said. "That place and the people there are so special to me. Hopefully, we can get it done.”

He almost locked up that win in 2008 when he finished second behind Jimmie Johnson, while he was still driving the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford.

Now that Edwards has made the transition to Joe Gibbs Racing, he has the best average finish among his JGR teammates at Kansas and only trails the two Hendrick Motorsports drivers — Johnson and Chase Elliott — for the highest average finish among Chase drivers.

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With 11 top tens in 18 starts and only one DNF at the track, Edwards has to be one of the top candidates to lock up a spot in the Round of 8 with a win at Kansas.

His JGR teammates enter Kansas with different levels of urgency. Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch enter Kansas with the most points outside of Johnson, who is already locked into the Round of 8 with his win at Charlotte.

Busch knows it’s much easier to head to Talladega with a win to remove any concern of getting caught up in the ‘Big One’ and being eliminated from the Chase.

“I think that it is important to win at Kansas if you can, obviously to get your way into or through Talladega without having to worry," Busch said. "You can go to Talladega, run hard and have fun and do a good job of just trying to focus on winning the race. If you don’t win Kansas it’s not the end of the world. We’ve proven that you can get through, but it makes your day a heck of a lot easier."

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Both Busch and his teammate Denny Hamlin have been knocked out of the Chase by wrecks at Talladega in the past two seasons.

Hamlin, along with Edwards and Toyota teammate Martin Truex Jr., are in the final three spots above the cutoff for the Round of 8 and could use strong finishes or wins at Kansas to prevent the anxiety that Talladega will bring in two weeks.

While the recent surge of speed from Hendrick Motorsports has probably caused a bit of worry for the once dominant Toyotas, Edwards believes all five Toyotas have a solid chance of advancing to the Round of 8.

“I don’t see any reason why we can’t all five make it to the Round of 8," Edwards said. "We’ve got great cars, great engines, really good teamwork. If we could get Cole (Pearn, crew chief for Martin Truex Jr.) to tell us everything, that would help, but I mean seriously those guys are so good that it gives us a lot of optimism, everybody’s looking up, looking forward. We really feel like we can step it up a little bit and run really well, so I don’t think there’s any concerns in our camp.”