As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Kobalt Tools 500, Carl Edwards will return to the site where the current star exploded onto the NASCAR scene and will commemorate his achievements from five-years earlier.
Edwards arrived at Atlanta Motor Speedway five-years ago as a wide-eyed upstart in NASCAR's top series. Known well by only NASCAR's most passionate fans, the Missouri native entered the 2005 Sprint Cup Series race weekend having won Truck Series Rookie of the Year honors, but he was yet to make a name for himself competing with NASCAR's top drivers.
But Edwards' luck - and level of fame - would soon change as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver not only won the Saturday Nationwide Series race, but also used Atlanta's high line exiting turn four to slingshot past Jimmie Johnson at the finish in the weekend's marquee contest.
"Five years ago, my whole career changed in an instant by beating Jimmie Johnson back to the finish line and winning my first race in the Sprint Cup Series," said Edwards.
And five years later Edwards will once again don the same Scotts company paint scheme he won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in.
"It's very cool that Scotts is still behind me like they were that day and its even cooler that they are running this (retro) paint scheme," said Edwards. "It would mean the world to win another one with that car. I'd say of all the diecast cars I've signed, I've signed more of those first-win cars than anything else and it's a moment in my life I was really proud of."
Despite five years passing - and 15 additional NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins - Edwards still recalls the emotion of the moment.
"I just could not believe that I had won the race. I just couldn't believe it," explained Edwards. "I remember right after I passed the start-finish line, the thing I remember the most is it took a second to sink in because I was racing so hard with [Johnson]. I thought, ‘Man, the race is over. There's nobody in front of me. I just won the race. That means I won!'
"It was so cool - such a neat feeling," Edwards continued. "And I knew right where Victory Lane was because I was there the day before. I just couldn't believe it."
Edwards' Saturday win at Atlanta Motor Speedway prior to his Sprint Cup Series victory also marked his first NASCAR Nationwide Series win. And despite his success in the Saturday event, Edwards was still uncertain entering what would be his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win.
"I remember in Victory Lane [after the Nationwide race win] when someone joked, ‘Same time, same place tomorrow,' and I thought, ‘That'd be pretty neat,' but I thought the chances of that - who knows what they are - I had never won a race in the Cup Series so to be there 24 hours later was just crazy," said Edwards.
And after pulling double duty for the weekend and winning a pair of races, Edwards found himself eager to celebrate his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win despite fatigue setting in. When Edwards leapt from the car for what is now his seemingly-trademarked backflip celebration, the Sprint Cup star barely landed on his feet but then stood with a smile.
"I almost didn't make the backflip," Edwards now says with a laugh. "I didn't even care. That was just a neat moment."
Carl Edwards returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Kobalt Tools 500 on March 7. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway Ticket Office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX, or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.