Whilst admitting that it had been 'frustrating' to miss out on 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series glory at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend, Carl Edwards at least took away the satisfaction of knowing he had made rival Clint Bowyer 'sweat' for the title.
In pulling off his 20th career Nationwide victory and seventh of 2008 – albeit his first at Homestead – Edwards came within just 21 points of the championship in the final reckoning, as Bowyer trailed in fifth.
Having gutsily held off a racy Kyle Busch behind him for the win, the Roush Fenway Racing star took team owner Jack Roush's Nationwide total to 98 successes and Ford's victory tally to nine in 2008, 13 at Homestead and 161 in total – but on a day when the odds were always going to be stacked against him, his best ultimately wasn't quite good enough.
“Definitely it's frustrating to not win the championship,” Edwards reflected of having failed to make it back-to-back successes following his 2007 triumph. “That's what we set out to do this season, but I believe that I understand the spots where we lost it. I know the things that I did that cost us some points.
“I think over the last ten or 15 races we have executed and performed at a really high level. If we can continue that going into the next season, then it might almost be worth it, to learn what we learned this season even though it cost us a championship. Yeah, so it is frustrating but, trust me, there's no shame in trying your hardest and giving it all you got and getting beat. You've just got to keep going.”
The race itself – the Ford 300 season finale – was a fraught one for the Missouri-born ace, with Busch breathing down his neck following the late re-start, but confessing to having 'taken a lot of not very smart chances, chances that were risky' over the course of the campaign, this time he was composure personified.
“It was a great race, a lot of fun,” Edwards enthused. “I really had a good time racing with Kyle there. That was a good race. Man, I know Clint had to be to sweating those last few laps because some of those guys behind him had tyres. I thought, 'Man, it could happen'.
“I'm kind of thinking about just racing like that (for wins rather than conservatively) all the time now. I can't imagine why you'd race for points. We seem to have accumulated a lot of points by just being aggressive. There is a fine line; you have to be careful. I've taken a lot of not very smart chances, chances that were risky, but it has been fun. I've enjoyed it.
“Tonight went as well as it could have. For one race, it couldn't have gone any better. Drew [Blickensderfer – crew chief] did a great job, my guys did a great job and we had a car that was fast enough to win. We did everything right. If I could go back through the season and pick out 21 points, that'd be great, but we can't, it's a full season.