DOVER, Del. - Carl Edwards was the Sprint Cup Series driver everyone was talking about early in the season. He won two of the first three races and led the points standings.
Then Edwards and his No. 99 Ford team felt the ground-shaking gavel of NASCAR justice. Officials discovered an infraction on Edwards' car following his second win, at Las Vegas. Edwards was docked 100 points and crew chief Bob Osborne, was fined $100,000 and suspended for six races.
Edwards rebounded by adding another victory in the season's seventh race at Texas. He is now sixth in points, but Kyle Busch is the driver attracting the most attention now. Busch, the points leader, also has won three races.
"It's not like we went anywhere," Edwards said. "It's just so competitive that a tenth of a second or two makes a difference between you being a winner or running seventh. The way the perception is, if you run seventh for a few weeks, all of a sudden you're slow. Seventh is not slow."
No, but seventh is slower that first.
"If you have one bad pit stop," Edwards said, "it's like you went from being the guy that can win the race to you're fighting your guts out for seventh or eighth place.
"The only thing that's great about the [No.] 18 team running so well right now is that's it's going to be hard to do that all year. Maybe they're going to peak right now and we'll beat them like a drum at the end of the year."
Edwards, winner of last year's fall race at Dover, is fascinated at the commotion over today's Nationwide Series debut of 18-year-old Joey Logano.
"On my 18th birthday," Edwards recalled, "that night I was at my buddy's shop. He was helping me put trailer lights on my little open trailer, so I could go dirt-modified racing. I could not have imagined on my 18th birthday to be preparing for something of this magnitude."
With Bruton Smith buying Kentucky Speedway earlier this month, speculation is growing about which tracks are for sale. Smith wants to bring a Sprint Cup race to Kentucky.
Smith and his Speedway Motorsports company own seven racetracks that host NASCAR races. International Speedway Corp. owns the most tracks (12).
Only three independently owned tracks remain: Pocono, Dover and Indianapolis.
Earlier this week, the Mattioli family, which owns Pocono Raceway, reiterated that the mountain racetrack is not for sale. Next, it's Dover's turn.
Denis McGlynn said yesterday that, as president and CEO of Dover International Speedway, a public company, he cannot comment on speculation and rumors. Mc-Glynn added that the board of a public company is "clearly obligated to consider proposals" of purchase.
McGlynn has not previously indicated Dover is for sale.
Jeff Gordon suggested yesterday that Pocono Raceway needs some fixin' up.
"I love the Mattiolis, but their racetrack is outdated," Gordon said yesterday. "It needs a ton of upgrades. The fact that it's in the Northeast is a positive thing, but I'm shocked that they've had two races as long as they have, and I'll be surprised if that stays that way for the future."
The first Indy car race at Pocono was in 1971. NASCAR debuted at the track in 1974.
Greg Biffle yesterday won the pole position for tomorrow's Cup race. Biffle's 155.219-mph clocking in the No. 16 Ford was almost 2 mph faster than Kurt Busch's 153.971 in a Dodge. Kyle Busch, Kurt's younger brother, qualified third at 153.767 mph in a Toyota.
"It's funny: The less time we spend on qualifying, the better we qualify," Biffle said. "I can't explain it. The car was absolutely perfect."
Scott Speed won the Craftsman Truck Series' AAA Insurance 200, his first career victory in only his sixth start. Sprint Cup star Kurt Busch led a race-high 96 laps, but finished 27th after developing transmission trouble . . . Elliot Sadler re-signed with Gillett Evernham Motorsports through 2010. Sadler, 25th in points this season, qualified ninth for tomorrow's Cup race. *