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Fill-in-the-blank: Auto Club
RELATED: Read more Inside Groove I should have known it was going to be a special weekend at Auto Club Speedway when an owl interrupted practice Jimmie Johnson wrecked his primary car in practice Kyle Larson won the pole . Sure enough, I was right wrong wondering what happened to my pet owl . Auto Club Speedway always provides the most exciting westernmost fastest most recent race of the season, and this race was really no exception ordinary race onions, Animal Style, please week to have Matt Kenseth on your fantasy team . What really blew my mind was when Martin Truex Jr. didn't pit for tires at the end of the race Kyle Larson tweeted a picture of his credit card . Why would someone do such a careless misinformed silly genius thing? I guess we can't all be like Brad Keselowski Clint Bowyer Daniel Suarez Jamie McMurray Ryan Blaney Chase Elliott Chip Ganassi , who ended up having a really solid race. It's still amazing to me how Jimmie Johnson has finished every single career lap at ACS Kyle Larson is so fast this season we've been racing at Auto Club Speedway for 20 years "Ty Dillon" is an anagram for "Tiny Doll" . I think I'm going to celebrate Kyle Larson's win Clint Bowyer's best finish in nearly two years Brad Keselowski's impressive comeback Daniel Suarez's second consecutive seventh-place finish heading to Martinsville next week by stocking up some Cottonelle at Target buying some Mobil 1 at Rush Truck Centers installing Wurth auto parts on my Ford while sipping Miller Lite ordering whatever a Number 7 is at Subway logging onto Twitter and telling Dale Jr. to go faster . While it's been fun racing on something that's described as "D-shaped" out West for the past three weeks on fast tracks without Carl Edwards winning all the races with young drivers leading the pack at over 200 mph , it'll be nice to head to Martinsville next week for some good, old-fashioned short-track racing short-track tempers paper-clipping hot dog chugging paint trading -- that is, as soon as I track down my pet owl set down my phone and grab some Cottonelle short pit for fresh tires write Kyle Larson's name on my playoff grid send more angry tweets to Dale Jr.'s crew chief buy Kyle Larson gear and pretend I've been a fan for years set my clock back to East Coast time drop my Matt Kenseth diecast off a cliff so it's crash-accurate .
Daniel Suarez gets Atlanta lessons from Carl Edwards
BUY TICKETS: See the races in Atlanta HAMPTON, Ga. -- Daniel Suarez has NASCAR national series experience at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but his notebook for navigating the 1.54-mile track in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is relatively bare. A devoted student of the sport, Suarez religiously pores over race footage, especially at venues where his experience level could use a boost. But with his first premier-series start on an intermediate-sized track looming, Suarez has called in an expert tutor for an early season cram session. Carl Edwards , a three-time Atlanta winner over the course of his career, was back in the garage area Friday, making the rounds ahead of Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Edwards' surprise decision to step away from racing in January turned the seat of Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 19 Toyota to Suarez, the 2016 XFINITY Series champion who's making the big leap to NASCAR's top division this year. RELATED: Suarez takes over the No. 19 Toyota from Edwards Edwards' return to the track isn't a first. The 37-year-old veteran also attended an offseason organizational test at Phoenix Raceway, lending a hand both to Suarez and the Gibbs-owned team. But the 25-year-old Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate says this weekend's visit stems as much from their personal connection as it does their working relationship. "He's a great guy, a very good friend," Suarez said before Friday's first practice at the 1.54-mile track. "He just asked me, 'Hey, Daniel, do you want me to go over there? Do you think it would be helpful?' I said, 'Man, to have a driver like you who has a bunch of wins here in Atlanta, it's a big deal.' Yeah, he's going to be here to help me out, help the team out. It's a team he knows very well. It's going to be good to have him just to watch and to tell us what's going on from his view." RELATED: Edwards attends Phoenix test to guide rookie Suarez Suarez consulted with Edwards early in the 85-minute opening practice, moments after a 14-lap first run to prep for Sunday's 500-miler, the second race of the season. FOX Sports was quick to note in its broadcast that Edwards has some experience as a substitute teacher on his resume, something that he said may or may not come in handy. "I didn't teach much Spanish and that's coming back to haunt me," joked Edwards , who also told FS1 that he had a hard time staying away from the site of so many successes, including his breakthrough Cup win. "But no, it's really neat to see a guy like Daniel, he's a self-made guy and he's doing a great job. He really cares. To help him a little bit is really cool." Besides learning the nuances of the well-worn Georgia asphalt from a master, Suarez is also getting a preliminary feel for the ebbs and flows of the NASCAR schedule in the big leagues. His season-long workload has gone up, as have his obligations -- both at the track and away. He's just one race in, after a 29th-place series debut in the season-opening Daytona 500, but he already has an early sense of what the year may hold. "I think it's definitely more busy than the XFINITY Series, more going on," Suarez said. "You have more time in the race track than when you are home, but it's good. I really enjoy a lot to spend time in the race track with my team, working hard to become a better person, a better driver. So far, I'm really enjoying this a lot." </p>
Edwards on Suarez: 'It's his team; he's proven himself'
BUY TICKETS: See the races in Atlanta MORE: Suarez: It's going to be a great year " Edwards gives Atlanta advice HAMPTON, Ga. -- Carl Edwards flew to Atlanta Motor Speedway on Friday morning in his personal Cessna plane, presumably packing light. Though he stepped away from NASCAR competition in January, Edwards still made sure that his driver's suit and helmet were part of his cargo. Just in case. Ever the racer, Edwards was back in his element at Atlanta, enjoying seeing the people and surroundings at a venue that catapulted him to NASCAR's elite with a breakthrough victory nearly 12 years. His role Friday was as teacher and consultant, sharing lunch and working with rookie Daniel Suarez, his successor in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota. Though his safety gear was in tow, Edwards reiterated that he was sticking with the decision he made in the offseason. And he also made it clear -- despite rumors, hearsay and conspiracy theories to the contrary about his reasons for leaving -- that Suarez had earned his place in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. "I think very quickly I'll be out of the picture because it's his team. He's proven himself," said Edwards , dressed in a crisp black shirt with the logo of team sponsor Arris. "He doesn't have to have me here. I'm only an addition to what he's already got, and it's only because he wants me here. "I definitely don't want to get in the way. I'm not a hanger-on type of guy. If they don't want me here, I won't be here." MORE: Edwards goes to Phoenix to help Suarez Edwards , who was unsure the length of his stay in the Peach State, tackled a wide range of topics in his informal afternoon gaggle with reporters behind the No. 19 hauler: His insistence that it's not a "retirement," his chances for a return to the cockpit, his peace with the January decision, his potential political aspirations, Suarez's development, and those pesky rumors that haven't caused him to lose his sense of humor. "Man, I should've started this a lot different. I could've messed with you guys somehow with all the rumors and stuff," Edwards said with a grin. "(Suarez benefactor) Carlos (Slim) pays me $1 million a race to come and hang out. Penske wants me to spy on the Toyotas." Edwards was joking, but the act of stowing Nomex into his luggage did plenty to stir the intrigue. Even with his career resume, the 37-year-old veteran would have to complete certain compulsory tasks to turn laps. He would have to have a current 2017 NASCAR competitor's license (he doesn't, NASCAR officials said), pass a drug test and receive approval from both the track and NASCAR's competition department. As of Friday afternoon, Edwards said he was unsure about his status and indicated he'd filled out no paperwork. "I snuck into a lot of race tracks and driven stuff, so I'm not above doing that," Edwards quipped. "I don't know. I haven't filled out any paperwork. I did tell (series director) Richard Buck this morning that I'm pretty sure that I'd pass the drug test, so that'd be good." Edwards continued to shy away from the word "retirement," but with the roar of XFINITY Series cars practicing in the background, it was clear he missed the challenge of Atlanta's worn asphalt. "This place, I love this place. I miss driving while I'm standing here." Full-time driving remains out of the question for now, Edwards says, but even the lure of a partial schedule in any of NASCAR's national series would be a tough sell. "I don't know. It's kind of hard to come here and it's hard to be kind of half-in, half-out," Edwards said, "so I'm going to try really hard to stick to my plan, step away, make sure I get my perspective right and if decide I want to drive something, I'm going to do it 100 percent, but I don't know what I'm going to … right now, I don't know … I'm certain that I wouldn't agree to something full-time right now." Edwards also touched on the possibility of a political run, something he broached in his January 11 announcement. The Missouri native reaffirmed his offseason stance, indicating that he had no concrete intent to campaign for office. "I haven't decided on the political stuff," Edwards said. "Like I talked about at the press conference, I really believe in individual freedom and liberty and what the United States is based upon. I think, like anybody, I've been paying attention and it's a little scary what's going on as a whole in our country and in the world. So if I can help with that down the line, great, but I don't have any firm plans right now." &lt;/p&gt;
Carl Edwards leaves JGR: What they're writing
WATCH: 'Not saying the R-word' " Reasons behind decision The media center can be a tough place for drivers -- or a place to celebrate. Reliving the key moments of a thrilling victory. Hard questions on hard days. Carl Edwards ' decision to leave Joe Gibbs Racing and step aside from competing full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series brought a little of both at Wednesday's press conference at the team's shop. And it was his own quote, published by NBC Sports' Nate Ryan on Tuesday, that made Edwards choke up and tearfully whisper, "I just want to be a good person." The quote from Ryan's story was: "For me, the Midwestern mentality is pretty simple. It's just do your job, do your work, be kind to people. Your reputation will follow. I'm really proud to be from Missouri." It's an accurate self-description, per the lauds from NASCAR writers and broadcasters heaped upon Edwards upon his exit. Here are some of the sentiments shared in print and online. Tom Jensen of FOX Sports initially broke the story of Edwards' imminent departure and wrote, "Whatever his next move, Edwards certainly has established an impressive body of work in NASCAR. He owes no one in the racing community anything, and his choice to step away -- whether temporarily or permanently -- that's his right. And he's exercised it. Good luck in the future, Carl . We'll miss you." " Read more Ryan added: "You always know what you will get in an interview with Carl Edwards -- a professional take on whatever the question is, and answered with the measured intelligence and perspective of a man who once taught high school on the side." " Read more Bob Pockrass, ESPN: "( Edwards ) likes his business to be handled neatly, and he believes any friction should be handled privately, leading to criticism that he wasn't as genuine as other drivers. But that also has given him the persona as the ultimate professional publicly, and that is what has attracted fans and has allowed him to be a favorite of talk show hosts looking for a driver who can relate to fans and nonfans alike." " Read more Jordan Bianchi, SB Nation: "As private as Edwards is, he is also among the more personable drivers in the garage. Any interview with him began with him removing his sunglasses so he could look the interviewee and camera straight in the eye. The gesture became such a trademark, sometimes other drivers would good-naturedly mock it." " Read more The finish at Homestead repeatedly came up in conversations this week. One of the most illustrative moments in Carl Edwards ' racing history was the way he left what may be his last race. After a heartbreaking wreck involving the No. 22 Team Penske car with 10 laps to go that cost him the 2016 NASCAR Chase championship, Edwards shook hands with Joey Logano 's crew chief Todd Gordon and team members, rallied his own family and reached out to fans. Jeff Gluck of USA Today told the tale on Nov. 20: "On his way out of the garage, Edwards spotted one of his longtime fans. Rhianne Mitchell was standing silently nearby, with tears in her eyes. Edwards stopped in his tracks, turned around and returned to give her a hug. He pumped his fist at his loyal supporter, as if to try and pick up her spirits. "This kind of exceptional conduct in the face of deep disappointment was something everyone in all walks of life should cherish. And NASCAR fans should certainly be proud Edwards is one of their own." " Read more Lee Spencer of Motorsport.com reached farther back in her own memories to share a story that paints a picture of who Edwards was when he entered the sport, and who he remained. It occurred after Edwards' victory in the 2004 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series opener at Daytona International Speedway . "But it was after that Daytona win that Edwards would forever endear himself to this writer. After a typical, hectic Speedweeks, I was battling the flu and was forced to leave the track and follow the race on TV. Edwards was kind enough to call me from Victory Lane to offer fresh quotes for my story. Edwards' graciousness was not lost on me." " Read more &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Carl Edwards steps away from racing; Daniel Suarez to wheel No. 19
RELATED: NASCAR Nation reacts to Edwards' news " Quotes from day HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- Carl Edwards gave three very detailed reasons why he is stepping away from NASCAR competition, only to circle back to the subject later and put it a bit more succinctly. "Life is short," Edwards told a room full of media, sponsor representatives and other assorted team and NASCAR officials Wednesday. "You've got to do what your gut tells you." And Edwards said his gut told him it was time to move on to something else. Edwards , 37, officially announced that he will not compete in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2017, calling a halt to a career that included 28 victories at NASCAR's top level, 10 Chase appearances and two second-place finishes in the series' championship points battle. The 2017 season was to be his third in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, his team since joining JGR in 2015 after an 11-year career at Roush Fenway Racing . Instead, it will be 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Daniel Suarez who will be at the helm of the team's No. 19 entry. Suarez, the first Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR national championship and a product of the sanctioning body's Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Next programs, will make his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut in the season-opening Daytona 500 , scheduled for Feb. 26 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). MORE: Recap Suarez's title year " Suarez returns home to Mexico a champion Edwards , wearing a dark suit and gray dress shirt as he walked on stage at the organization's headquarters here in Huntersville, didn't entirely rule out a return to racing in some form or fashion, explaining that "If I'm going to get back in a race car, which I'm not saying the R (retirement) word here … I'm calling Coach (Joe) Gibbs first. "There is no better race team. There is no faster car than a Toyota Camry. There's no better engine. There's no better crew chief than Dave Rogers. There's no better crew." Why step away when he is seemingly still at the top of his game? He finished fourth in the 2016 points standings and was in the title picture right up until a crash with 12 laps remaining took him out of contention in the series’ final race. WATCH: Edwards takes blame for Miami wreck " Edwards' 2016 in review
Carl Edwards' exit could put Christopher Bell on fast track to XFINITY
How long do you think it took Christopher Bell to do the math? Carl Edwards ' announcement of his abrupt exit from the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has had a ripple effect that could go far beyond the promotion of Daniel Suárez to a full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ride. Because Suárez will fill Edwards' seat in NASCAR’s premier series, he won't defend his NASCAR XFINITY Series title. Bell will be one of the beneficiaries of the changes in Suárez's schedule. "Right now, we have a solid plan for Christopher," said Dave Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development (TRD) USA. "He exceeded our expectations. He got all the way to Miami (the championship race of the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase at Homestead-Miami Speedway ). This year, we expect him to get to Miami and win. "And if circumstances play out, we really would like to get him into an XFINITY car for a couple of races. We're working hard on that, and we're optimistic, but that could very well be a domino that falls. Those are helpful -- those couple of races where there's zero pressure, but it gives you a look at the next step." Last week at the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the 22-year-old Bell wasn't thinking about the next step. He was contemplating the next race, trying to become the first native Oklahoman to win the marquee event of midget racing since Andy Hillenburg accomplished the feat in 1994. (And, no, the Andy Hillenburg in question is not the Indiana-born driver who ran NASCAR races and later bought Rockingham Speedway . The Andy Hillenburg who won the Chili Bowl is a sprint car racer from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.) Bell was also thinking about the upcoming season in the Camping World Truck Series, where his own expectations mirror those of the Toyota brass. "I guess it could open it up for me," Bell said of Edwards' departure. "But, honestly, I haven't even really thought about it, because my schedule's already set, obviously, with Kyle Busch Motorsports. That's where my focus is, and we're going to aim really hard to win races this year. "We came close on the championship last year, but we didn't win many races -- we won one time. My goal is to win races with KBM." That doesn’t mean, however, that Bell wasn't enthused about the prospect of getting his first taste of the XFINITY Series. "That's great," he said during a break between features at the Chili Bowl. "That's good that I might get a couple of races -- that's really good." The extent of Bell's participation in XFINITY races depends to some degree on sponsorship. Wilson said Suárez's primary sponsor, Arris, which also sponsored Edwards , will be confined to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup car, even though Suárez will still run between eight and 12 XFINITY races. "If he (Bell) does what he should do in '17, then, naturally, we would love to get him into an XFINITY ride in '18," Wilson said. "Yes, this could play into Christopher's further development and get him one or two more XFINITY races that we may not have foreseen prior to the news (about Edwards )." Last Saturday night, Bell fulfilled his long-standing dream of winning the Chili Bowl, noting that competing in the Truck Series had informed his approach to dirt-track racing. Biding his time in the 55-lap "A" Main, Bell started on the front row and passed polesitter Justin Grant on Lap 26. He stayed out front the rest of the way. "In years past, it's been attack, attack, attack," Bell said. "This year, it didn't have to be that way. I just ran hard enough to stay in position but not get into trouble. I was able to ride behind Justin there for a while. I knew the bottom was slowing down quite a bit and I kept trying the top. I tried it two times and I almost got passed, so I knew it was going to be a matter of too early or too late at the top. "I started to watch the big screen. (Eventual runner-up Daryn) Pittman was running the top at the time. I knew he was in eighth, and I looked up and he was third or fourth so I knew I had to go. Once I went, I was able to squeak by Justin on the straightaway, and then it was a matter of just not screwing up." That sort of patience is emblematic of Bell's maturation as a driver. Early last season, he didn't look like a championship contender. In the second race of 2016, at Atlanta, his aggressiveness led to a wreck that collected Suárez, his teammate, and fellow Toyota driver and two-time series champion Matt Crafton . But Bell won at Gateway Motorsports Park nine races into the schedule, and he finished outside the top 10 just twice in the last 16 events.
Timeline of Carl Edwards , Daniel Suarez news
RELATED: Edwards steps away from racing, Suarez to wheel No. 19 On Wednesday, Jan. 11 Carl Edwards announced he was stepping down from Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition. Joe Gibbs Racing revealed that 2016 XFINITY Series champion Daniel Suarez would wheel Edwards' No. 19 Toyota Camry in NASCAR's top series. Here's a step-by-step account of the breaking news, and its impact, with the most recent stories at the top.
Watch the full Carl Edwards press conference as he steps away from NASCAR
Carl Edwards announced he is stepping away from NASCAR, before the start of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.
Carl Edwards steps away ahead of 2017 Season
Carl Edwards announced he is stepping away on Wednesday, before the start of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Daniel Suarez will replace Edwards in the No. 19 Camry.
Carl Edwards returns to track ... to help Suarez
Recently retired driver Carl Edwards was at Phoenix Raceway on Tuesday, offering assistance to Daniel Suarez, the new driver of the No. 19 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.