Edwards starts simple

Focus on little things first step to bigger success

February 03, 2010|By Tania Ganguli On auto racing

A young, bright-eyed Carl Edwards walked through a bookstore some time between the 2005 and 2006 seasons. He was full of confidence from a 2005 campaign in which his Roush Fenway Ford won four races, had 18 top-10s and finished third in the points standings.

There in the bookstore he saw his picture on a magazine next to the words "2006 Champ."

"Wow, yeah," he thought. "They're right, it's going to be great."

His 2006 season? No victories and a 12th-place finish in the Cup series standings.

A part of him grew up that season - the part that thinks preseason predictions mean anything. It's why this time last year, when the 2009 season came around and Edwards was the early favorite to unseat Jimmie Johnson, he wanted no part of the talk.

Unlike Denny Hamlin, who is delighting in his status as "the guy who might beat Jimmie Johnson" in 2010, Edwards brushed off the votes of confidence.

"It can only mess with you," Edwards said last month. "There's no point in paying much attention, is what I'm saying."

His and the Roush Fenway Racing team's struggles in 2009 last season baffled the garages.

Edwards and the Roush Fenway Racing stable is taking a new approach this season. Rather than trying to hit the engineering equivalent of a home run, they are working on the small pieces.

"We spent a disproportionate amount of time trying to find the thing that NASCAR had missed, the thing that other teams were looking for, that next breakthrough," Jack Roush said. "Guess what? We didn't find it. In the meantime … we didn't spend as much time on a number of nuances, a number of small things you need."

Roush said the organization added six people to its engineering staff and is confident that will help the team focus on the little, day-to-day advancements while still dedicating time to finding a breakthrough.

They will be bolstered by Ford's addition of Richard Petty Motorsports, which will run Roush-Yates Engines, thus adding an extra set of upper-echelon eyes to the equipment.

A down year might foretell a trend for some teams. There is no way Roush is one of those teams.

With apologies to Carl Edwards, you can count on that preseason prediction.


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