Stewart, Edwards flex their muscles in California twin bill

Updated: February 26, 2008

AP Photo/Mark Avery

Tony Stewart is pure perfection so far in Nationwide, backing up his Daytona win with a Fontana victory.

Heavyweight Contenders

On the conditioning scale, it's safe to say Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart appear to be at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Edwards has appeared shirtless in various magazines and is held up as a poster boy for fitness. When some say NASCAR drivers aren't athletes, Edwards' physique seems to indicate otherwise.

Stewart, meanwhile, is more like the fan in the stand, the one who works hard for a stretch to get in great shape, then loses the battle of the bulge for periods of time. Those who insist anyone can drive a car for hours on end might point to Stewart as an example.

But on Monday at Auto Club Speedway, both showed they are perfectly capable of driving, and winning, during an unexpected twin bill that surpassed the yearly running of the Coca-Cola 600 in terms of length.

A weekend's worth of rain in Fontana, Calif., left the Sprint Cup Series with 163 laps around the 2-mile oval remaining when the Auto Club 500 resumed Monday. After that race, 12 drivers would have about an hour to gear up for the Stater Brothers 300 Nationwide Series race.

In short, that's 626 miles of racing, with the final 300 of them after eight of the drivers -- the ones not vying for the Nationwide title -- were finished with their primary jobs. For most of them, double duty wasn't double the work as much as it appeared to be double the fun.

Stewart breezed to victory in the 300, his second straight Nationwide Series win to open the season. Far from tired, he looked as though he was ready for another 300 miles at the track of your choosing. Edwards, who won the Cup race to start the day, finished fifth in the day's final race.

In fact, as is often the case in Nationwide Series races, the top nine drivers had climbed out of Cup cars earlier in the day.

"It wasn't a big deal; that was easy. These [Nationwide] cars drove so much better than the [Sprint Cup cars] we drove this morning -- it was a lot more fun to drive these, obviously, because they handle so good compared to the Sprint Cup cars," Stewart said. "But you can't take it away from [crew chief] Dave Rogers and these [Joe Gibbs Racing] guys. They made it handle really, really good; there were a lot of cars that weren't driving real good out there, and this thing drove good all day. They just did an awesome job."

Just as Edwards' Roush Fenway Racing crew did the best job to start the day. Edwards didn't get to have the traditional postrace celebration because he still had plenty of work to do, but it's no surprise that the workout warrior was feeling fine at the end of the day.

"It's weird to win a Cup race and jump right into another car, but I wouldn't celebrate it any other way. That's fun. That's a good race right there," he said after the Nationwide race.

Drivers often go from a Cup practice session into their Nationwide car, or vice versa, but usually don't have the adrenaline rush that accompanies a win.

Edwards, though, said that wasn't a challenge at all.

"I'm real fortunate, I can just turn that off when I get in the car and focus on what I'm doing," he said. "It's going to be a nice flight home. I'm excited. We had a good day. To win the Sprint Cup race here in California, that's a great day. And to top it off with a top-five run in the Nationwide Series, that's a good day."

-- Mark Ashenfelter is an associate editor at ESPN. He can be reached at mark.ashenfelter@espn.com.


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Jayski Podcast

Mark Garrow recaps Tony Stewart's win in California and previews the next race in Las Vegas. Plus, more Nationwide news.
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A Bit Of History

Cindy Woosley isn't looking to be a trailblazer; she's just busy doing something she loves. The Winchester, Ky., native became the first female crew chief in a NASCAR national series when she called the shots for Kertus Davis at Auto Club Speedway.

Woosley has spent only two years in racing but has worked on cars all her life. She joined Johnny Davis Racing last year and has worked building the car's suspension and as a tire specialist in addition to other duties.

Kertus Davis says she basically has been the team's car chief, working with crew chief Gene Allnutt, who was suspended six races by NASCAR after the team uncovered a violation after qualifying at Daytona. Allnutt was with the team for the Stater Brothers 300, but he won't be in Vegas.

Woosley doesn't think serving as the team's crew chief was a big deal. Davis was on the lead lap in the late going until the car's rear end failed, relegating him to a 31st-place finish.

"Sure. I think all women should try to get into this," Woosley said when asked whether she was ready for the job. "They may think it's something hard, and it is hard work, but when you get in there, the excitement just kind of makes it all go away."

Davis doesn't see it as a big deal, either.

"She's a go-getter; she's a hard worker," Davis said. "She's been like a car chief since she's been with us, and since Gene got suspended for six weeks, we just kind of moved her on up. We'll see how it goes after today."