Edwards focused on Richmond sweep, but how far will he go to get it?

While several drivers are going into Richmond thinking about the Chase, Carl Edwards will be thinking about just one thing – The sweep.

Edwards focused on Richmond sweep, but how far will he go to get it?
Carl Edwards, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota race winner
Carl Edwards, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Carl Edwards, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Carl Edwards, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota race winner
Carl Edwards, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Carl Edwards, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota race winner
Carl Edwards, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Carl Edwards, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Carl Edwards, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota race winner
Carl Edwards, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Edwards comes back to RIR as the defending race winner, having moved his teammate Kyle Busch out of the way to snag the victory earlier this year.

The bump and win

The move became the focal point of debates on whether he crossed a line in regards to racing ethics. During a press conference Friday, Motorsport.com asked the driver of the No. 19 if he’d have any reservations about pulling the same move again.

“I can still feel Coach (Joe) Gibbs’ presence here from last time I was sitting here after the race. Kyle (Busch) and I talked. We actually talked about it last night – Denny (Hamlin) was nice enough to give me a ride here and we joked around about it a little bit, but I think right now, both of us having wins, I think we all know that right now this is an opportunity for us to go race, have as much fun as we can, race each other as hard as we possibly can.

“So I don’t know. I know if I were put in the position and the roles were reversed, I know exactly what to expect tomorrow night, but I plan on racing as hard as I can for the victory.”

Every point counts

That win in April was his second of the 2016 season and his most recent. And even though Edwards – and all Gibbs cars for that matter – are solidly locked into the Chase, that doesn’t mean a win Saturday night will have no bearing on the postseason to come.

Each win earns a driver three bonus points going into the first round of the Chase, which could prove critical if an unforeseen crash or mechanical gremlin were to befall a contender.

“I’m very familiar with how important each point is, so we definitely want to win this race, get some points, but really we just – we talked about it a lot this week.”

Toyota leading the pack once again

In practice, Edwards didn’t seem quite as strong as his fellow JGR compatriots, ending the first session eighth and final practice 20th. But those numbers can be misleading because if you look at the ten-lap averages, Edwards was on top of the charts for Happy Hour. His Toyota teammates followed closely behind with the marque 1-2-3-4-5.

So despite single-lap speeds, it would be unwise to rule him out as a legitimate contender tomorrow night.

“This place is so much fun with the tire and this downforce package and the surface,” he told the assembled media. “Even out there in practice right now, you’re just sliding all over place sideways searching for grip. It’s a really, really fun race track, so had a blast here in the spring. It was exactly the kind of race and the kind of – the cars drove the way that I really enjoy, so I’m looking forward to this race.”

Nothing to lose

While drivers like Jamie McMurray have to sweat over their uncertain position inside the Chase, Edwards doesn’t have the burden of that pressure this weekend. Knowing that feeling won’t last beyond this weekend, he’s going to savor it while he still can.

“I’m going to push it a little bit tomorrow night.

“It’s really the last time we can afford to have any mistakes, so just going to try to play loose a little bit and go for it and hopefully gets us a win. But this is the last one without all the pressure, so we’re going to have some fun.”

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