Missouri’s top two NASCAR drivers have not had the kind of season either had hoped for in 2006. After the race at Watkins Glen on August 13, Columbia’s Carl Edwards is 14th in the standings, 191 points out of tenth place. Edwards needs to climb into the top ten in the next four races to have a shot at the NASCAR championship this year. NASCAR rules say the top ten drivers after 26 races qualify for a final ten-race runoff for the title.
Edwards has had 11 finishes in the top ten through 21 races, and has been in the top five six times with a pair of runner-up finishes at New Hampshire and Michigan his best through the race an Indianapolis. But misfortunes have left him with bad finishes in several races. Edwards started 22nd at Indianapolis, where he was interviewed by Misosurinet News Director Bob Priddy, but was running second after 76 laps. Slow pit stops and handling problems late in the race dropped him out of the top ten late in the race. A three-car crash late in the race let him finish ninth. [Carl Edwards, Brickyard 400 – Photo by Bob Priddy]
Edwards is 27 and is in his second full season in NASCAR’s top division. His father was a championship racer on midwestern tracks. He won three rookie-of-the year honors and two track championships in the Columbia-Jefferson City area before moving to USAC’s Silver Crown open-wheel series, then getting his first ride in the NASCAR truck series in 2002. He ran his first full season in NASCAR’s top stock car series in 2005 and finished the season with four victories and a third-place finish in the points standings.
In the interview (see below), recorded during an appearance at a store operated by his sponsor, Office Depot, Edwards reflects on his season and his career.
Joplin’s Jamie McMurray is 18th and out of the running for the top ten. He’s had only seven top tens in the first 22 races of the year after joining Roush Racing, one of NASCAR’s power teams, in the off-season. He’s been in the top five only three times, including a second at Dover. At Indianapolis, McMurray started 18th, reached 9th on the 70th lap, but slow pit work left him 17th shortly before the mid-race point. A jack failure on his last pit stop dropped him to 33rd with 16 laps left. He worked his way back to 26th before the race ended. In his interview, recorded at a safe-driving/responsible drinking promotion by his sponsor, Crown Royal, McMurray evaluates the problems he has had since joining his new team, talks of laying the groundwork with his team for a better 2007, and reflects on going back to Joplin. [Jamie McMurray, Brickyard 400 – Photos: Rick Gevers, Bob Priddy]
McMurray is 30 and is in his fourth full season in NASCAR’s top series. He became the first driver in modern NASCAR history to win a Cup race in his second start. He filled in for the injured Sterling Marlin in 2002 He was the series rookie of the year in ’03. He just missed top-ten points finishes in the next three years while driving for Chip Ganassi’s team. After the 2005 season, he jumped to Roush Racing to replace Kurt Bush who had moved to Penske Racing to replace St. Louis native Rusty Wallace, who retired at the end of 2005. He’s a four-time United States Go-Kart champion and also has won the world karting championship. He began driving in the local NASCAR series in 19-92. Five years later he defeated NASCAR legend Larry Phillps to win the track championship at Lebanon. He started in NASCAR trucks in 1999 and moved full-time to the top series in 2003. McMurray also campaigns a car in the Busch series owned by Wallace. In his interview, he refers to driving a different car for Wallace—a Dodge. He drives a Ford for Roush.
Three other Missourians also compete in NASCAR’s highest series. Ken Schrader of Fenton and Mike and Kenny Wallace of St.Louis.