SCR: In 2001, 2002, along that time?
EDWARDS: That would have been 2001 because we won a track championship in 2000 at our dirt track in the Modifieds, and I got my engine claimed. I swore I was never going back there, so we parked the Modified and sold everything and bought this USAC Silver Crown car. It was a huge stretch for my family. We essentially put everything we had into that car and drug it to Phoenix, Arizona, and I ran my first pavement race ever in a Silver Crown car there. It was pretty wild. It was a lot different from what I was used to. We ran pretty well there and ran another race in Irwindale (California) and I started getting hired by people. That's when things really started taking off. I'm telling you, that race at Phoenix I borrowed a pick-up truck from my buddy and we had an open trailer that didn't have any fenders, so we welded fenders on it. We loaded everything we could on it and I drove it by myself out to Phoenix. The fenders fell off in New Mexico somewhere. I pulled into Phoenix International Raceway and I had never seen this place before. I'll never forget Robin Braig, who is the president of Daytona International Speedway now and was the president of Phoenix Raceway then, greeting me on pit road when everybody was pulling their trailers in. They just thought it was great. Here's this kid, you know, who didn't know what he was doing. I pulled in with everything I owned loaded on that trailer--tarps, cover, and all that stuff. It was pretty funny.
SCR: Then you moved east, right after that?
EDWARDS: Yeah, Mike Mittler gave me the opportunity to run his Craftsman Truck. After Larry Gunselman went to another team. I ran seven races for him. Jack (Roush) called me up right before we went to Daytona in 2003 and I moved to North Carolina.
SCR: At one point you ran an ad in a trade publication looking for a ride. Talk about that.
EDWARDS: It was Speed Sport News. Dad has always had a subscription to that and it was always around. Right when I was really, really racing and wanting to get rides, and I was asking everybody I knew and everybody at the race track if I could drive their race cars, I noticed that they had a section in the classifieds, rides wanted. If they hadn't have had that, I never would have thought of it. But I sent in my picture and paid my 25 or 30 bucks a month and kept an ad in there. My thinking being that the first obstacle for a racer looking for a ride is to let everyone know he's looking for a ride. I got a lot of flak for it. A lot of people laughed at me. But when it came down to it, people always knew exactly what I wanted, and it was only a matter of time before somebody had a seat. Everybody knew, though, that's what I wanted to do.
(above & right) Edwards has...
(above & right) Edwards has made his mark in the Craftsman Truck Series, including a win in the 2004 season opener at Daytona.
SCR: But you got on Roush's radar while driving Mike Mittler's truck, basically?
SCR: I read somewhere that over the last 10 years you've got two NASCAR sanctioned track championships, two rookie of the year honors, 56 feature wins, dirt and pavement, all across the country. Tell us about the championships, where they were, that sort of thing.
EDWARDS: That was at Capital Speedway in Holt Summit, Missouri. That was the closest race track to my home growing up. My dad raced there in the '80s. That was the local dirt track. It was really neat when I started racing there in '97. I ran for the first time in a Modified there. Then in '98 we ran for rookie of the year in the two-barreled division with an old car, and we got it. We bought a newer car from one of the A class competitors, a four-barrel class. We won 11 features in '99 with that and won the championship (in a two-barrel class). Then we built a good motor over the winter, had a good engine built, and went out in 2000, in our first year running the four-barrel class, and won the championship and rookie of the year the same year. That was pretty neat because it was just me and my buddies. We were all about 21 years old and we won a lot of races.
SCR: Is Capital Speedway still open?
EDWARDS: No. It's kind of a sad story. I was just home a couple of weeks ago and they're tearing it down to build some sort of development on it. It's pretty sad. It's really sad for me because that was my life for a few years. That place meant a lot to me. It's sad to see it go.
SCR: What size track was it?
EDWARDS: It was a big 3/8s. It wasn't real high-banked. You could run all the way at the top or all the way at the bottom. It was a really great race track. It was about (the size of North Wilkesboro Speedway). Well, a little smaller but close.
SCR: What is the single most memorable season that you've had in racing?
EDWARDS: I would have to say that 2000 season in the Modifieds is the one that I really look back on and think the most about. At this point that was a really fun one because we were competing against a lot of really good racers right then. That track had been around for a long time and there were some real veterans there. We came in and won the championship. We took my parents' two-car garage there at the house and turned that into our race shop. We had a really nice place. We drywalled everything and had nice lights and air conditioning in there. We had an air compressor and painted the walls and we had the neatest operation. We really had it together, and that was a lot of fun.
"I used to sit in my garage...
"I used to sit in my garage at home and work on that dirt car with this as my goal."
SCR: Because of Jeff Burton's departure, you of course moved into the 99 car a little sooner than expected. But are you scheduled to be in that car for the upcoming season?
EDWARDS: Not yet. We're searching for a sponsor. The original plan was to run a partial season in 2005 and then run full-time in 2006. So this really sped things up. I don't think we have the funding in order yet (as of late October) for 2005.
SCR: But that's what they're working for, a full 2005 season?
EDWARDS: That would be great.
SCR: Is the fall-back plan for you to run Busch?
EDWARDS: I think so. Either Busch or the Trucks plus a partial (Cup) schedule and then full-time next year. Boy I would really like to run full-time (in 2005).
SCR: How close are they to getting sponsorship to run a full 2005 schedule?
EDWARDS: I don't know exactly. That's what Jack and I going to talk about here in a minute.
SCR: Stepping from a Truck in to the Cup car, what was that like? Compare the two.
EDWARDS: It's just like any step. Any time you step up from series to series, it seems like you double the competition level, or even more. It might be a little higher ratio. The Cup cars are a little harder to drive and the competition is just unimaginable. Those guys are so good.
SCR: What's the biggest adjustment, the hardware or the competition?
EDWARDS: The competition. I mean, a race car is generally a race car. But those race car drivers are far from ordinary--they're very good.