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Carl Edwards has all the NASCAR Nationwide Series pieces to win at Kansas

Carl Edwards
Carl Edwards

By Lee Montgomery
Special to Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

In the calendar year since Mike Beam took over as Carl Edwards' NASCAR Nationwide Series crew chief, Edwards and the No. 60 team have won nine times.

That's one fewer than Nationwide Series king Kyle Busch has over that span, but Edwards hopes to add to his total in this weekend's Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway, his home track.

"It all starts at the shop," Edwards said. "These Ford Mustangs they've been building have been spectacular. (Team co-owner) Jack (Roush) listened to us about a year-and-a-half ago when we were telling him different things we needed, and everybody's come together and done a really good job making these cars better."

Beam was the director of competition for Roush Fenway Racing's Nationwide operation when Roush moved then-crew chief Drew Blickensderfer to the Sprint Cup Series. Edwards had won two races to that point of the 2010 season, a very un-Edwards-like season, as he'd won 25 times in the previous five years.

But Beam and engineer Scott Graves came to the No. 60 team and made some changes.

"It's been a great team," Roush said. "We did look, and there were some things lacking, obviously, in our program a year and a half ago. We were underachieving for the talent of everybody that was involved, so we made some moves."

Roush said the biggest move was literal: Moving the Nationwide Series operation that was housed in Mooresville, N.C., to the Roush Fenway campus in Concord.

"The help that Ford was giving us could come to bear (for the Nationwide teams) and would reflect on all the cars as an engineering impact," Roush said. "Mike's been able to use that to his advantage."

Beam said he and Graves were like "kids in a candy store" with the help and information he received from Roush Fenway's engineering department.

"We're really living a dream here," Beam said. "We have everything we could possibly have."

Soon, the effort turned into a victory at Texas last November, snapping Busch's five-race winning streak there.

"That's the first time we beat Kyle and those guys," Beam said. "We got our confidence back."

This season, Edwards has won seven times, second only to Busch's eight. Those teams are 1-2 in the Nationwide owners standings, with Busch's No. 18 team leading Edwards' team by 13 points. A solid showing at Kansas would help Edwards' team, though Edwards has ulterior motives.

He's from Columbia, Mo., about two hours from Kansas Speedway. A win in Cup or Nationwide at Kansas "would be as big as I've ever had."

"I absolutely love Kansas Speedway," Edwards said. "It's not far from my hometown and I will have several of my family and friends there. It's a track I really want to win at.

"Our Fastenal team has been on a roll and we are coming off a strong win at Dover. Kansas Speedway is exactly what this Fastenal team needs for the owners points. We have five races left and we want to gain as many points as possible and make it count. These last races are at very good tracks and we will make it exciting for the fans."

Fast facts
Kansas Lottery 300
Where: Kansas Speedway; Kansas City, Kan.
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. Eastern
TV: ESPN2, 3 p.m.
Radio: MRN/Sirius XM Ch. 90
Track layout: 1.5-mile oval
Race distance: 200 laps/300 miles
Qualifying: 10:05 a.m. Eastern
2010 winner: Joey Logano
2010 polesitter: Joey Logano
Points standings: 1. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 1,025; 2. Elliott Sadler, 1,003; 3. Reed Sorenson, 976; 4. Aric Almirola, 951; 5. Justin Allgaier, 939; 6. Jason Leffler, 884; 7. Kenny Wallace, 841; 8. Steve Wallace, 815; 9. Brian Scott, 811; 10. Michael Annett, 804.