|Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Scotts Winterguard Ford, walks on the grid prior to the start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virg., Oct. 30, 2011. (JARED C. TILTON/Getty Images/AFP)
TORONTO - A year ago Kevin Harvick was lamenting that his quest for a first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship was being scuttled by the horseshoes that Jimmie Johnson had somehow arranged to be up his rear end.
This season Johnson may be gone as a threat to Harvick’s second chance at tasting champagne but the horseshoes remain, only this time they are up the butt of Carl Edwards.
Edwards has twice come back — first at Talladega and then Sunday at Martinsville — from what looked like certain disastrous results to an 11th and ninth place finish respectively, thus holding on to the top spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship with three races left.
Just look at what happened to him at Martinsville: He pitted early only to lose valuable track position; had a lug nut jam, putting him a lap down only to get it back — twice — in the form of being the lucky dog and finally was handed a black flag penalty, only to have it reversed, keeping him on the lead lap.
Individually, each of those incidents could have been critical to his championship hopes, collectively they should have been fatal.
But Edwards came through smelling like a rose. Even he had to admit after the Martinsville race that the No. 99 Roush Fenway Ford team has been riding an incredible streak of good luck.
“We did not deserve to finish ninth,” Edwards said.
The 32-year-old native of Columbia, Mo., said at several points during his day at Martinsville, he looked to his beloved St. Louis Cardinals and Missouri Tigers for inspiration.
“We were so bad,” he said. “With about 200 laps to go I was thinking, ‘Okay. The Cardinals didn’t give up the other night.’ That was a little motivation. ‘The Missouri Tigers didn’t give up the other night.’ That was more motivation. I had become okay with the fact that we were probably gonna finish 20th or 25th.”
Edwards said he thought things were so dire that he began to look ahead to this week’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, only to have his pit road team pull off a couple of great stops putting him at least within shouting distance of a respectable finish.
“I was thinking already about Texas and how we were gonna have to go there and everything we were gonna do, but my guys stuck with it and we got very, very fortunate,” he said. “I’m just glad we can move on.”
Tony Stewart, who won at Martinsville to close within eight points of Edwards said that the No. 99 team should be worried. Edwards, with his luck still intact, would beg to differ.
“(Tony) is wound up,” Edwards said. “He won the race. We’ll see what happens at Texas. They’re going to have to race us, too. I’m excited about the next three races.”
MORE AUSTIN WOES
Formula One czar Bernie Ecclestone is not so quietly telling team bosses that the proposed United States Grand Prix is not a sure thing for 2012.
According to AUTOSPORT.com, Ecclestone said in a letter to F1 teams that there are still some questions about the race at the still-being-built Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Texas.
As reported earlier, there appears to be some discord among the investors who are backing the project.
“I don’t think they are struggling (with building the track) at all,” Ecclestone said. “I think there has been a disagreement inside the company.”
NASCAR Canadian Tire Series 2010 champion DJ Kennington will see double duty at Phoenix International Raceway Nov. 12, competing for MacDonald Motorsports in the Nationwide Series race in the Northern Provincial Pipeline/Whitemud Mechanical/Mahindra Tractors Dodge and will also pilot a Bill McAnally entry for the K & N West Series event with the same sponsorship backing. ... A scary moment for NASCAR Sprint Cup team owner Rick Hendrick on Monday when a private jet carrying him and his wife Linda to Key West International Airport ran off the end of the runaway. Hendrick suffered a broken rib and a broken shoulder while Linda Hendrick suffered some cuts and bruises but was released, along with her husband, after treatment at a local hospital. It was seven years ago that another Hendrick Motorsports plane crashed upon landing at Martinsville, Va., killing all 10 passengers including Rick Hendrick’s son and former NASCAR driver Ricky Hendrick ... Canadian IndyCar legend Paul Tracy will join Man in Motion legend Rick Hansen on Saturday in Toronto to mark Hansen’s 25th Anniversary Relay. Tracy will run and then drive a nine kilometre segment of the route along Kingston Road in his home town of Scarborough, starting at 11:40 a.m.