While a regular contender for NASCAR's Sprint Cup, Carl Edwards has also been a leading race winner in the second-tier NASCAR Nationwide Series with Roush Fenway Racing for the past seven years. That won't be the case in 2012, as Edwards has decided not to run any Nationwide races – although he left open the possibility of changing that plan later in the season.
"The way we're approaching this season is, I'm not committing to any races right now," Edwards told NASCAR.com. "And, as the season goes, if I decide I'm just a nervous ball of energy on Saturdays and I can't function without going racing – because that might be the case – then we'll work to try to go [Nationwide] racing."
Edwards' attempts to win two NASCAR championships in the same season came to an end last year, when NASCAR issued a rule limiting drivers to racing for only one national series championship in any season.
"Once they said we could not run for the championship, I had already committed and Roush and the sponsors had already committed to running the full season," Edwards said. "So we stuck with it and we did it. But to me, that was really, in my mind, my last real go at it for the whole season."
Edwards did help to secure the Nationwide Series owners' championship for RFR with his efforts last year, which included eight wins – tying him for the league lead with another non-points contender, Kyle Busch, while points champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won only twice. However, he reckons that sitting out the 2012 NNWS should help him go one step better in Sprint Cup, where he narrowly lost the championship to Tony Stewart at the final race.
"I'm hoping this lets me focus more on the Cup car, lets me be a better Cup racer by maybe having more time during the race weekend to maybe hone the setups in," he said.
Demonstrating his ambivalence about the decision, however, Edwards added that he still sees advantages in contesting additional races during NASCAR weekends.
"Truly, I learned so many things in that Nationwide car that it's a real toss up whether or not it'll help the [Cup] performance on Sunday," Edwards said. "I've made some big mistakes on Saturday that helped me not to make them on Sunday.
"We could get 10 races in and I could say, 'Hey, I'm better off racing on Saturdays.' Then, it would be on me to go look for some way to put something together so that we could go race [in Nationwide]."