Columbia’s Carl Edwards and Joplin’s Jamie McMurray continue their turn-around seasons after a disappointing 2006 in which both failed to make the “Chase for the Cup,” the last ten races of the season in which only the top drivers qualify to compete for NASCAR’s top championship.

Both drivers sturggled in last weekend’s Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But Edwards held onto his solid position among the top 12 driverss and McMurray moved closer to the top dozen.

Edwards raced at Indianapolis with a dislocated thumb suffered in a dirt-track race a week earlier in Iowa. Although somewhat painful, the injury did not appear to affect his capability behind the wheel. He gave it a good workout in practice and qualifiying on Saturday, then drove his car to a fourth-jplace finish in a Grand Natlional race at Indianapolic Raceway Park the night before the Brickyard 400, and ran all 160 laps at the Brickyard. Although never a contender for the win, Edwards rallied from a 35th starting position to finish 18th on Sunday, dodging several wrecks on the way.

McMurray was involved in an eight-car wreck on the 45th lap. He was able to get back onto the track after extensive repairs by his crew and re-entered the race in 38th place. He finished the day 21 laps down, in 33rd place, gaining fifteen important points in the standings.

Edwards heads to next weekend’s race at Pocono solidly in sixth place.McMurray is 15th, only 113 points behind Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who is 12th. There are six races to go before the 12 championship contenders are determined.

Both Edwards and McMurray drive for Jack Roush, who fields three other cars in the series. The day before the race, Roush met with Missourinet news director Bob Priddy at McMurray’s hauler in the Indianapolis Speedway infield parking area for a candid conversation about Edwards and McMurray. The interview is attached to this story.

Listen/Download interview with Jack Roush (4 min MP3)