Defending race champion Carl Edwards joined NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series veteran Bobby Hamilton in the Kentucky Speedway Media Center today to provide a preview of the July 10 "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by The Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers."

Edwards, the 2003 NCTS rookie-of-the-year, enters this Saturday's race at Kansas Speedway second in the series standings and has earned one win, three top-five and six top-10 finishes through nine starts this season. He began the week trailing leader Dennis Setzer by 131 points.

He is motivated to return to the site of his first NCTS win and successfully defend his Kentucky title in his No. 99 Superchips Ford.

"Last year was spectacular. I grew up racing at local dirt tracks and I never imagined running a race like this, much less winning one," Edwards said. "We really want to put Ford and Superchips in Victory Lane here this year."

He said he expects a door-to-door war when the series returns for its fifth Kentucky Speedway appearance next Saturday.

"There are about 16 races left," Edwards said. "At one point at the middle of last season we hit a streak and picked up about 100 points on the leader in four races. It's probably going to be just like last year and the championship will be decided with the last race. Hopefully we can win more races and get the championship, but you have to race so hard every week that you can't really think about it. I can think of six to eight guys right now that can legitimately win the championship."

Team owner and NCTS veteran driver Bobby Hamilton began the week third in the series standings after collecting two wins, three top-five and six top-10 finishes through nine series races this season. Hamilton is tied with Setzer for the series lead in wins and trails by 153 points.

Hamilton said he will be gunning for Setzer when the green flag drops for "The Built Ford Tough 225."

"You don't race for points at this point in the season, you race to win races," Hamilton said. "The one thing we need to realize, and I don't mean this in a bad way because Dennis Setzer is a great competitor and he's great for the series, but he's won two races this year. He won one because someone screwed up and turned on the caution light and this man (Edwards) let off the gas because he was supposed to. He (Setzer) won the second because Ted Musgrave's wheel almost fell off.

"Carl and I have both gone out and flat won races. That's what it takes to win a championship. If Dennis wins the championship, he'll be a great champion, but there will be four or five of us breathing down his neck in the next four or five races."

Ford also unveiled the winning F-150 paint scheme from its recent children's design contest. Winning designer Melissa Leahy, an eighth-grader at Pleasant Run Middle School near Cincinnati, was on hand to help unveil the design that will serve as "The Official Truck of the Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by The Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers."

Kentucky Speedway's third race weekend begins Friday, July 9 with "700 WLW Pole Night" and the running of the ARCA RE/MAX Series "Kentucky 150." All tickets are $20 in advance and $25 on race day. Speedway gates open at 2:00 p.m. The day features NCTS and ARCA RE/MAX Series practice sessions and the 8:00 p.m. ARCA RE/MAX Series race.

The action continues on Saturday, July 10 with "The Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by The Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers." Speedway gates open at 3:00 p.m. and the full day of activity includes USAC Ford Focus Midget Series racing on the paved quarter-mile track, a pre-race concert by country artist Rodney Atkins and the 8:00 p.m. green-flag start of "The Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by The Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers."

Tickets are still available and can be reserved in the following ways:
• By phone at 1-888-652-RACE
• On the World Wide Web at www.kentuckyspeedway.com
• In person at either the speedway's Ft. Mitchell ticket office or at the Kentucky Speedway Fan Center off Ky. Hwy. 35 in Sparta, Ky.
• At Tickets.com and all Greater Cincinnati Tickets.com retail outlets including all Meijer stores.

~ Kentucky Speedway ~