Edwards looking for more speed at Roush Fenway

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Carl Edwards, the most high-profile driver who becomes a free agent at the end of this season, still has confidence that his Roush Fenway Racing team can find more speed and run better.

Thanks to his win at Bristol earlier this season, Edwards is in good shape to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup. And while he’s third in the standings, he’s consistently finishing between sixth and 15th, much like last season.

Edwards has just three top-five finishes in 13 races and has led just 104 laps, with 78 of those coming at Bristol. He has led no more than eight laps in any other race this year.

“We’ve basically had the same struggle all year,” Edwards told reporters without going into specifics Friday at Pocono Raceway. “We’re working on addressing that. Fortunately we have time to fix it, hopefully, before the Chase.”

Edwards, who has 22 career victories, has spent his entire 10-year Cup career at Roush. He has remained mum on his future. Asked on ESPN on Wednesday about his 2015 plans, Edwards joked that he had trouble hearing the question and said he’s focused on this weekend’s race at Pocono.

Joe Gibbs Racing officials last month wouldn’t comment on starting a fourth team for Edwards. JGR, which courted Edwards three years ago, appears to be Edwards’ most likely destination.

That would move him from being a long-time Ford spokesman to a Toyota driver.

When asked about Ford on Friday, Edwards expressed confidence in the manufacturer that currently backs him.

“I don’t think anybody makes better cars than Ford does,” Edwards said. “I think they really care about their products and they definitely care about racing. It is part of their DNA. … Their contribution to NASCAR, it is immense and right now yielding great results from the Penske side.

“I think as a group we have to step up our performance at Roush Fenway to be representative of Ford’s contribution. I am really proud to drive for Ford and I think they do a great job.”

Roush Fenway recently released its chief engineer Chip Bolin and is looking for a replacement.

“We know we have to be faster,” Edwards said. “There are big changes trying to address that. … We just have to hope that we work on the right things, we are able to implement the finds and be better.”

KAHNE WANTS TO BE MORE VOCAL

Kasey Kahne struggled with setups early this season and his team has struggled with execution at other times throughout the year.

One thing he doesn’t think he has struggled with as much as in the past? His attitude and mentality.

Kahne said while he is frustrated with being winless and 18th in the Sprint Cup standings, he has handled those frustrations the best he could. He even thinks that maybe he should lash out more at crew chief Kenny Francis, and vice versa.

“Sometimes not talking, neither of us get too upset at each other or any of that, I see that kind of hurting you at times,” Kahne told reporters Friday at Pocono Raceway, where he won last August.

“Maybe you need to get it out there and talk about it. … We’re trying. We’re working at it. We just need to hit on it.”

The Hendrick Motorsports team thought they had things going in the right direction with back-to-back top-10 finishes in early May. But finishes of 14th and 19th the last two weeks in races where they were running in the top 10 have just added to the 2014 woes.

“It’s been a bit frustrating at times, but I’ve handled it all pretty well in my opinion,” Kahne said.

“Last Monday was probably the worst Monday I’ve had of the season. … We went 17th to fifth (at Dover) and just couldn’t hit on it from there (and finished 19th).”

While the struggled have been tough, Kahne said he has matured in how to handle the slumps.

"I've handled everything a lot better than I would have in the past," Kahne said. "My weeks aren't near as down as some people would think they should be the way we've performed at times. You just have to move on after a race and figure out how you can make it better and then do that at the next track."

JOHNSON PLANNING TO SWING FOR FENCES

For fans already worried about Jimmie Johnson dominating the rest of the season and the Chase for the Sprint Cup, here’s some more bad news.

“We can swing for the fences (now),” said Johnson, who will be trying to win his third straight race Sunday in the Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway.

With two straight wins, Johnson is virtually assured of a spot in the Chase. And with NASCAR’s new Chase rules — which place more emphasis on winning — Johnson can now gamble to try to win more races and begin testing to prepare for the 10-race Chase.

“Really it changes your strategy at some racetracks,” Johnson said Friday at Pocono. “This would be one of them. Fuel mileage is a big part of the finish of this race. Tire strategy also comes into play and we can swing for the fences here, which makes that a lot of fun. And hopefully I can save gas, which I really don’t do a good job of.”

Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports team are also starting to look at the overall picture — like preparing for the Chase and trying to help teammate Kasey Kahne get in.

Hendrick has four wins so far this season, with Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. all earning Chase spots with wins. Kahne, meanwhile, has struggled, dropping to 18th in points with a 19th-place finish last week at Dover.

“As a group, we want all four cars in the Chase, and we need to get Kasey a win,” Johnson said. “That part is still kind of out there. We’re three-quarters of the way there to having a full testing plan and focus solely on the Chase. So hopefully we can get the No. 5 car a win soon and let that go the rest of the way.”

JOHNSON READY FOR DAUGHTER TO RACE

NASCAR drivers like to get their children started racing as soon as possible.

Jeff Gordon made headlines recently when he revealed that he has bought his 6-year-old daughter, Ella Sofia, her first racecar.

And Kevin Harvick already has his son Keelan, who will turn 2 in July, practicing victory celebrations with his toy car.

Now Jimmie Johnson is working on putting his 3-year-old daughter Genevieve in a racecar.

“Yeah, I’m definitely entertaining quarter midgets and go karts,” Johnson said Friday at Pocono Raceway. “Genevieve has a four-wheeler. Lydia is a couple of years away from all that yet.

“But in our race shop a lot of our crewmen have their kids in kid karts and driving at various places. So, I’ve considered it. I’ve been serving it up to (wife) Chani, and she’s semi-okay with it. And Genevieve is all about it. So hopefully this summer I’ll get a chance to put her in a kart and just see how she goes.”

Like Gordon, Johnson believes his daughter might be a natural.

“She’s been very responsible on her four-wheeler,” he said. “So now if I can find a pink go kart, I think she’s in.”

TALLAEGA NIGHTS ACTOR CHARGED WITH RECKLESS DRIVING

Turns out the young Ricky Bobby was not such a good driver after all.

Actor Luke Bigham, who played the 10-year-old Ricky Bobby in the 2006 movie “Talladega Nights,” is being sought by Alabama authorities for his role in a five-vehicle crash in Trussville, Ala.

Authorities have a warrant accusing Bigham of aggravated driving and causing a wreck that injured himself and two others, according to ABC3340.com in Alabama.

Trussville Police Chief Don Sivley told the website that Bigham was traveling at more than 80 mph on Main St. when he struck another vehicle, causing his Lexus GS350 to spin out of control and damage three other vehicles. The speed limit on Main St. is 35 mph.

Three people suffered minor injuries, including Bigham, who was transported to a local hospital.

According to the website, the former child actor is expected to surrender to police and will be charged with one count of reckless driving.

Talladega Nights starred Will Ferrell as NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby. Bigham appeared in a couple of scenes as the 10-year-Ricky Bobby.

Contributors: Bob Pockrass, Jeff Owens

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Sporting News editorial team