Carl Edwards enters the final week of the season in second place in NASCAR's top two series.
He trails Jimmie Johnson by 141 points in the Sprint Cup Series and Clint Bowyer by 56 in the Nationwide Series.
A driver who enjoys racing for racing's sake, Edwards plans to run for the championship in both series again next year, but the defending Nationwide Series champion hasn't given up on 2008 just yet - however long the odds.
Edwards gives his take on the challenges - and rewards - of pulling double duty.
“You know, right off the bat when I first started running both of them in 2005, I was certain it helped me,” he said. “I mean, it was 100 per cent beneficial for Sundays. As I've gone along, it's not been a benefit for the same reasons. You know, now it's different. It was that I was getting experience racing on the racetrack, racing around these guys.
“Now I feel like I have enough experience with that stuff that the benefit for me is just the competitive outlet on Saturdays. Winning that race at Memphis, I believe it put a little spring in my step and made Sunday go better (he won at Atlanta).”
However, there is the physical grind of racing in different cities on the same weekend:
“It's something I thought would be really tough at the beginning,” he said. “In a way, (the Atlanta-Memphis double) couldn't have been simpler. Going back and forth from Sonoma to Milwaukee, you maybe miss just a little bit of sleep.
“Bobby East practiced and qualified over there in Memphis in the Nationwide car. All I had to do is show up and jump in and race. So that weekend is actually less gruelling than going back and forth and practicing all day Friday. The result was still good. The weekends (with companion races) where I'll be going back and forth from garage to garage on Friday, those are the ones that take a little bit out of you. But really the racing on Saturday is a short enough race, and it's fun enough. You've got enough time to rest before Sunday that it doesn't take much out of you.”
Edwards could well end the season finishing second in both series, but his focus remains on victory.
“I'll let you know how I feel after it's done,” he concluded. “If we win, we win. If we don't, we don't. But right now, my focus is going out here and doing the best we can to win.”
by Reid Spencer/Sporting News