Carl Edwards has a million reasons to earn the checkered flag during Saturday’s Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
If Edwards, a native of Columbia, wins at the track where he’s won three times before, corporate sponsor Stanley Tools will donate $1 million to the Children’s Miracle Network through the Ace Hardware Foundation.
Edwards, 35, who is six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races into his first season with Joe Gibbs Racing, admitted that the chance to help a worthy cause ups the ante.
“That’s huge motivation to go out there and perform well for them,” Edwards said. “Regardless of how we do, they are going to make a very large donation of $100,000 (to) the Children’s Miracle Network. It’s a huge honor. It’s humbling for Stanley and Ace Hardware Foundation to put this much on the line, and to do it at a track at which we feel like we can win. That is really cool.”
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Edwards’ three victories at Texas Motor Speedway are tied for the most he’s notched at any track in a Sprint Cup race. He won in November 2005 and swept both 2008 races on the 1.5-mile oval.
Of course, Edwards, who called Texas “one of my favorite tracks,” could use a victory for myriad other reasons.
It would essentially assure him a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup playoff at the season’s end and also end the longest drought between victories since 2012, when he failed to win a race.
Edwards has gone 26 consecutive races without visiting Victory Lane and only posted six top-10 finishes in the last 20 races last season after a win June 22 at Sonoma.
After the season, Edwards left Roush Fenway Racing for Joe Gibbs Racing. He’s also working with a new crew chief, Darian Grubb. He hasn’t finished better than 12th in six races this season.
Edwards, who did finish third in the Sprint Unlimited race and a Budweiser Duel before the season-opening Daytona 500, sits in 17th place entering the weekend.
Edwards visited Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth on Thursday for a first-hand glimpse at the patients he’ll be helping.
“Yesterday was neat — more than neat, it was inspiring,” he said. “It gave me a lot of perspective in being there at the hospital and seeing what you guys (the kids) deal with.”