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.

"Clint earned the championship. He'll be a great champion. It's neat to see how excited his family is and how excited he is. I'm as happy as I can be for another guy to beat me, and I hope he enjoys it.

"One time I raced against him in Moberly, Missouri, and I beat him. It was awesome. That day felt real good. It doesn't make up for this day, but it felt good. Clint's a really good guy. It's so cool his mum and dad come to the races.

"The way he told me the story, he started racing out of the corner of his dad's tow truck shop. He's a great racer. That day in Moberly, if you would have told Clint and I we would be racing for the Nationwide Series Championship in 2008, I think that was 2001 or something, I would have laughed so hard. We were just a couple of dirt racers having some fun there.

"Now, no matter how tomorrow goes, the thing is this winter, I can go into this off-season knowing that we're going to be tough next year. We're going to be tough over here in the Nationwide Series and in the Cup Series. We've grown a lot and had a lot of fun."

Though he insists he is taking things simply 'a year at a time', Edwards - who will compete in the Race of Champions for the United States at Wembley Stadium in London next month, alongside countryman Travis Pastrana - admitted it is 'a blast' to be able to dovetail both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup programmes throughout the season, and revealed that he 'plans on doing it for a while'.

That is news that has pleased team owner Roush, who acknowledged it had been 'a super year' - albeit conceding that he had one small regret...

"The race team has done a great job coming together," the 66-year-old underlined. "Drew is going to be really good in this business, I think as good as any of the crew chiefs that are famous for their success. All of our sponsors have hung with us this year. It's been a great year.

"It's been a pleasure to be involved in the Nationwide Series and to be this close for a second year. If I look back, the only thing I wasn't able to do, as an owner, was to be able to race with Carl and Drew in the Nationwide series. That would be enough for me. It's been a great pleasure."

"We had to do what they didn't do," Blickensderfer summarised of the team's Homestead challenge. "Basically we wanted to put as much space between us and them as possible. The way it worked out, the #2 [Bowyer] pretty much stayed on our game plan and they were running good enough that they could stay within four or five car lengths from us most of the time, so it was tough to get off-sequence with them.

"At the end I had seen last night's race, took stuff from that and knew that the only way we were going to have a chance to win the championship, let alone the race, was [to] stay out. Hopefully Clint was far enough back and he would come and get tyred, but unfortunately it didn't happen.

"Carl knew things that he could probably look back at in the year and think 'maybe I should do this better'. There's a lot of things I could have done better. I've never been in a situation where I've raced for points. My rookie year as a crew chief I was fortunate enough to be with Danny O'Quinn; we won Rookie of the Year, but racing for points in-and-out against tough competition was new to me.

"There's certain things throughout the year that I look back on and think, man, we could have got five bonus points there or, man, I shouldn't have been that aggressive with that. I think the things I've learned over the last six or seven months on the #60 car have prepared me for championship battle."



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