Flippin’ Off South Beach: NASCAR Star Edwards Hits South Florida
Carl Edwards was on South Beach aboard the Duck Tours Miami land/sea vessel to promote Ford Championship Weekend Nov. 20-22 (Ryan Richeal, HMS Photography)
Click here to view Carl’s back flip into Biscayne Bay in Miami
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, traveled to Miami this week in advance of Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 20-22). And while he was roaming the streets—and waterways—of South Beach, the young driver known for intensity on the track quickly realized he was no longer in his hometown of Columbia, Mo: “I don’t think you can be focused on anything productive living in Miami,” he said. “The weather here is amazing…I love being outdoors.”
After winning a series-high nine NASCAR Sprint Cup races in 2008 to finish second in the Championship standings, Edwards was the 2009 preseason pick of a national-media poll to dethrone three-time NASCAR Champion Jimmie Johnson. This fall, Edwards is one of 12 Chase “playoff” contenders competing for the 2009 Sprint Cup Championship, to be crowned Nov. 22 at Homestead-Miami Speedway; great seats are still available by calling (866) 409-RACE or by visiting THEChampionshipTrack.com.
The first stop of what would be a whirlwind visit of South Florida was a TV studio in Fort Lauderdale, and Edwards was as comfortable in his tailored suit as he is in a driver’s suit. He traded verbal jabs with the host and even cracked a joke about his broken foot: “It takes a really special person to turn a game of Frisbee into a contact sport,” said Edwards. “Apparently, I am one of those very special people.”
After the TV spot, Edwards headed south. Crossing the county line from Broward to Miami-Dade, he made an unannounced appearance at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s 2009 Sports Hall of Champions induction luncheon. To the guest of honor’s sheer surprise, Edwards took the stage to present auto racing-pioneer Janet Guthrie in her enshrinement: “It was cool, because she made it possible for racing to move into non-traditional markets like Miami,” said Edwards. “She really raised the profile of auto racing.
Stop No. 3 on Edwards’ South Florida journey involved hosting media members for an expedition of South Beach via a most unique “Duck Tours Miami” vessel. Edwards played tour guide aboard the amphibious vehicle that would do his No. 99-sponsor, Aflac, quite proud. Along Ocean Drive, Edwards encountered a man riding a bicycle with a red-tailed boa constrictor draped around his shoulders, and the microphone-toting Sprint Cup star asked the man the origins of his snake.
“It’s from Colombia,” the man replied.
“Hey, that’s where [Juan Pablo] Montoya’s from,” Edwards said of his Miami-residing competitor. “We’re both from Colombia—I’m from the north end [of Missouri’s capital city], and he’s from the south end.”
After media was treated to a pass down South Beach’s most deco of drives, the Duck headed for Biscayne Bay and took a dive—literally driving into the ocean waters without so much as a blink of a land-to-water conversion. And it was here that Edwards’ South Florida visit would take a very spontaneous turn….
Despite wearing the walking cast on his broken foot, Edwards was asked by a local TV reporter if he would be performing his signature back flip off the boat. Edwards’ surprise reply: “I will if you will.”
So after a very brief tutorial, off the boat’s rail and into Biscayne Bay went the duo in what is probably not a scrapbook moment for team-owner Jack Roush. Edwards will seek forgiveness via a return trip to Victory Lane Nov. 22 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he last fall captured both the Ford 300 and Ford 400.
“Homestead-Miami Speedway is one of the most exciting tracks on the circuit; I cannot wait for the race,” said last year’s Championship runner-up. “The progressive banking allows drivers to maintain their speed three-wide, and I like it because it gives me options….I won this race last year, and I really need to make up some ground. Winning at Homestead-Miami Speedway is the way that you want to do it.”
And celebrating in South Florida? How would the 2009 Chase contender see that playing out?
“If we were to win the Championship, South Beach is where we would come,” said Edwards. “My crew guys would really like this.”