Carl Edwards, who grew up two hours from Kansas Speedway in Columbia, Missouri, has come close but never won in 17 Sprint Cup races at the place he considers his home track.
So it’s not entirely surprising that Edwards has said before that winning at Kansas would mean as much to him as winning the Daytona 500 — another race he’s never captured.
It seems that Edwards would also be willing to part with his most cherished and, yes, expensive possessions to go to Victory Lane at Kansas Speedway.
“I can’t think of a possession that I wouldn’t trade and I, mean, I have a really nice airplane,” the Joe Gibbs Racing driver said at the 1.5-mile track that will host Saturday night’s Go Bowling 400. “For a win here right now, I can’t think of anything I wouldn’t trade. … For me personally, there’s no amount of money that a win right now — especially here — wouldn’t be worth.”
Clint Bowyer, who was raised an hour and 45 minutes from Kansas Speedway in Emporia, Kansas, isn’t necessarily willing to go quite as far as Edwards in his desperation to leave Kansas a winner.
But he desperately wants to kick down the door to Victory Lane at Kansas – where he’s winless in 15 starts.
“We’re going to need a hospital if we win here,” the HScott Motorsports driver said, alluding to the wild party that would ensue if he captured Saturday night’s race under the lights.
Bowyer has for years made no bones about what a victory at his home track would mean to him personally and professionally.
“You always have that pressure and when you go home it’s that much more because all your friends will start calling last Thursday — ‘Are you ready to win Kansas? We’re going to be there Tuesday, are you ready?” Bowyer said. “It would be awesome to win here.”
Edwards, meanwhile, continues to be haunted by memories of the fall 2008 race at Kansas when he dive-bombed Jimmie Johnson going into the final corner, passing the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet with a daring move to the inside, only to drift high up the track coming off the turn and allow Johnson to move back underneath for the win.
“Somebody sent me a link to the 2008 race with me and Jimmie and that was literally the most upset I’ve ever been after a race because we got so close and I wanted to win so badly,” Edwards said. “It would be a spectacular race to win.
“I drove by this place before I was doing any NASCAR stuff, it’s almost like you don’t want to look at it because it’s all there — your hopes and dreams. There’s so many people from my hometown and so many people that I’ve raced with that are going to be here.”
The only driver who might be as hungry for a Kansas win as Edwards and Bowyer might be Joplin, Missouri’s Jamie McMurray, who likewise is winless at the track where his roots run deep.
“I remember when Kansas Speedway was built I was racing Late Models at I-70 and Lakeside at the time, and we were going out to Colorado to run an ARCA race that year and I remember seeing the Kansas Speedway property and driving by that and them saying they were going to put a NASCAR track there,” McMurray said. “It was hard to even believe that was a possibility in the Midwest. I remember watching the construction and everything go up as you kind of drove past it. It’s really cool to be able to race there now and be a part of all of that.”