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Edwards still looking for Cup win at track that jump-started his career

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader Carl Edwards, who hails from nearby Columbia, Mo., gives Kansas Speedway credit for jump-starting his career.

"It was the opportunity that Mike Mittler gave me here at Kansas in his (No.) 63 truck in 2002 and we ran eighth, which was a huge day,'' Edwards said. "That kind of got things rolling, so to speak, in my career.''

Edwards followed that up with a truck win at Kansas in 2004 and was in the Sprint Cup Series by the end of that season.

"It was an unreal race,'' Edwards recalled of his Kansas truck win. "I was racing too hard on the first lap and smacked the fence and then came back and won the race. It was a very special win.''

Since then Edwards has set his sights on a Sprint Cup win at his home track and will get another opportunity in Sunday's STP 400.

Edwards' best Cup showing at the track was a second-place finish to Jimmie Johnson in 2008 when his last-lap desperation move failed to get him the win.

"If I could re-do any race in my career it would be this race in 2008,'' Edwards said. "I am not going to tell you what I would do differently but there is definitely something I would have done differently and I think we would have won it.''

After being fast in practice Edwards will start seventh in the STP 400.

"I told Bob (Osborne, crew chief) this week that this race is really important to me,'' Edwards said. "I mean all of them are, but to win here in the Cup Series would be huge.

"We have what seems to be a really fast car and practice went really well. It is going to be hot and slick, which should be a lot of fun. I am just glad to be here racing and am looking forward to it.''

QUALIFYING CHANGES: NASCAR is in the process of changing qualifying procedures for all three of its top three series.

In both the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series, qualifying order will still be determined based upon practice speeds -- slowest to fastest -- but will no longer be separated between those teams that are locked into the race and those teams that must qualify on speed.

That change went into effect for Saturday's qualifying at Kansas Speedway for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 and for Nationwide qualifying for Saturday's race at Chicagoland Speedway.

The Sprint Cup qualifying procedure will change for next week's race at Pocono Raceway. Qualifying order will still be determined based on practice speeds -- from slowest to fastest -- with those times now coming from the first practice as opposed to combined practice sessions.

In addition the Sprint Cup qualifying order will no longer be separated between those teams that are locked into the race and those teams that must qualify on speed.

Kyle Busch, who qualified third for Sunday's STP 400, said that teams may get good about using the system to earn a favorable draw for qualifying.

In morning qualifying, as was the case Saturday, cars that go out early generally have better conditions than later qualifiers who go out after the track has gotten hotter.

"I think there's teams that are getting smarter now and they're figuring out ways to utilize lap times a bit differently, so we'll probably see that in effect here the next few weeks,'' Busch said. "Guys are going to get smart and they are going to start manipulating the times -- sand-bagging is what we call it -- in order to get an early draw.''

RESURFACING MAY BE IN SPEEDWAY'S FUTURE: Kansas Speedway, now in its 11th season of racing, could have a new surface for the 1.5-mile track by the time NASCAR returns in 2012.

Although nothing is official at this point -- the International Speedway Corp. board would have to approve any project -- there could also be changes in banking during the resurfacing.

Kurt Busch, pole-sitter for Sunday's STP 400, said that a new surface would most likely be a good thing.

"This track sees dramatic extremes with frozen temperatures in the teens in the wintertime and 100-degree days in the summer,'' Busch said. "This asphalt on the track has sustained a lot.

"I've heard about the re-pave and that they're looking to add banking to it. They want to make it more like we've seen at Homestead and what we've seen at some of the progressive bank-style tracks, which I agree with. You've got to keep it within reason, though, to make sure that the track still has the right amount of banking if Indy cars come here. That way you're not just tailoring it the big heavy stock cars.''

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
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