Daytona is 30 days away and I’m getting more and more excited about it by the minute.

Teams continued to test at Daytona International Speedway this week, including Carl Edwards and his Office Depot crew. Turns out Cousin Carl is a bit of a music aficionado. He’s the co-owner of a new record label that he started with some friends. (photo credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Here’s more from a press release:

Playing a guitar is a bit of a project for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford), who reads chassis hiccups like sheet music and manhandles steering wheels.

But feeling his way through cords and riffs hasn’t stymied Edwards. As the creator — along with friends in his native Missouri — of new recording label Back 40 Records, Edwards hopes to provide a boost for unknown artists who need it.

“I like the people that write their own songs and are really singing about something that they care about,” Edwards said Monday prior to NASCAR Jackson Hewitt Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona International Speedway.

“I tell you somebody I met the other day who was really cool was Danielle Peck, the country music singer. She was really nice and it was really cool to hear her story and how hard she’d worked, and then to listen to her music.”

Edwards knows the power of a big break: He has advanced from obscurity to stardom in only three years with Roush Racing. And as this week’s second session of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup preseason testing begins at Daytona, he’s searching for a way back to the top of the series charts.

“There were times last year where I thought, ‘Man, what am I doing wrong here?'” said Edwards, who followed 2005’s third-place finish with last season’s frustrating 12th-place effort.

A crew-chief change from Bob Osborne to Wally Brown, then back to Osborne for 2007 seems to have settled things, allowing Edwards to pursue a comeback — plus his new role as music mogul.

“We’ve got our record label going so I’ve been listening to that stuff — all the Back 40 artists — everything, man,” Edwards said. “The last really neat CD that I got — and I got to meet the guys — was the Robert Randolph band. I thought that was a great CD, so that’s probably what I’ve listened to the most, lately.”

Edwards, who jammed onstage with the band in December’s NASCAR Busch Series Awards Banquet performance, grew up listening to his father and two uncles strum guitars at family reunions. His own tastes took a historical turn — borrowing heavily from his parents’.

“When I was about 14, I found a record player and some records that they’d stacked away in the basement,” Edwards said, “and it was like John Denver, and Simon and Garfunkel — stuff like that. So for a long time, I never listened to current music. I was probably 17 when I started driving my car and I’d listen to whatever was on the radio.”

I like Carl Edwards, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, but I think I’m liking him more lately ever since Tony Stewart talked about how he thinks Carl is “Eddie Haskell”. I give Tony points for comparing Carl to Eddie, a name I’ve used for certain people in my personal life, but Tony kinda irks me so I still have to stick with Carl for the time being. Plus Carl is way cuter than Tony so there ya go.


In other news…

Ashley Force announced that she’ll be racing in Funny Car this year. This is great news! I can’t wait to see her competing against the men — and her father — at Infineon later this year. In an episode of Driving Force (on A&E) they show her qualifying to get her Funny Car license. It’s one of the sweetest episodes. John Force gets so emotional when she finally hits the mark that it got me all teary-eyed (which really isn’t that hard, but still). Anyway, Go Ashley!

Ashley Force, 24, stands with her father, 14-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force, next to the funny car she will drive this coming season in the NHRA Poweraide Series Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 16, 2007 in Yorba Linda, Calif. (AP Photo/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Will Lester)

I’m not digging her shorter hair, she definitely looks better with it longer.

— He’s baaack. Jeremy Mayfield was back in the saddle testing his new Toyota ride at Daytona this week. *sigh* I can’t wait for this race season to begin. There are a million and one storylines to be watched. Hold on tight, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Driver Jeremy Mayfield talks with crew members during NASCAR auto racing testing at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2007. (AP Photo/John Raoux)