Carl Edwards frequently displayed a smile at Kentucky Speedway today during his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (NNCS) test.

The 24-year-old manned the controls of the No. 99 Roush Racing Ford for the first time in preparation for his NNCS debut at Michigan International Speedway on August 22. Edwards takes over for Jeff Burton, who terminated a nine-year relationship with Roush Racing last week when he joined the No. 30 AOL Chevrolet NEXTEL Cup team fielded by Richard Childress Racing.

Edwards will complete the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) schedule in his current No. 99 Superchips Ford and compete in at least 10 of the remaining 13 NEXTEL Cup Series races following Michigan.

The 2003 NCTS Rookie of the Year was not certain about his plans for conflicting NNCS races on September 26 at Dover International Speedway, October 3 at Talladega Superspeedway, and October 16 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

"Truck is the primary focus," Edwards said. "There are three races that conflict and we'll run the truck for those races. I don't know what we'll do with the Cup schedule at that point."

Edwards, who was originally chosen to replace Mark Martin in the No. 6 Roush Ford upon retirement, first learned of the NNCS move last Tuesday.

"Jack had a bunch of options and the option he decided on was to have me test the waters and get as much experience as I can," Edwards said. "We ideally would have had a year of Busch or another year of truck with seven Cup races. If this works out, goes fast enough and we get a sponsor, it's just going to move everything up a year."

Edwards noticed a few subtleties between his truck and Cup car while turning his initial NNCS laps on the track where he captured his first NCTS win in 2003.

"Until today, I didn't know what to think," Edwards said. "I hadn't really driven one of these (Cup car). After driving it a little bit, I think it's going to be awesome. It feels a lot like the truck.

"There are little differences in the aerodynamic stuff. The Cup car is a little faster because it's more streamlined. You have to slow it down a little more because it has less down force than a truck. It's a little different, but it's all real close. That's fortunate for me.

"This track is awesome. We've tested here a number of times in the truck and raced here three times. It's a good, familiar track to come to because it takes one part of the newness out of the equation."

One element of his program he didn't test today was his signature victory back flip.

"If it gets to that, I guarantee you I'll get that figured out," he said.

~ Kentucky Speedway ~