By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service
Distributed by The Sports Xchange
JOLIET, Ill. -- Carl Edwards is ready to go, but there's a problem.
There's no big prize in front of him.
Winless since March 2011, Edwards won't be part of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup this season. When the driver who lost last year's championship on a tiebreaker comes to the track for the final 10 races, there will be a void.
"Everything I've done this year has been geared toward these 10 races, and the idea of missing them ... that wasn't the plan," Edwards told reporters after Friday's Roush Fenway Racing sponsorship announcement at Chicagoland Speedway.
"I'm physically fit as I can be. I'm mentally fit. I'm prepared, and I feel like we're ready to go, and there are still victories out there, but there's not that huge goal, and that's tough. I don't know how to really put that into words."
Whether it's battling Kyle Busch for 13th in the standings or helping teammates Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle -- both of whom qualified for NASCAR's playoff -- Edwards needs something to compensate for the absence of a title run.
"I need a challenge," Edwards said. "That's what I told Jack and the guys. If there's anything I can do to help Matt and Greg, anything to give me a goal, that's how I'm built."
To Edwards, perhaps the most disappointing aspect about missing the Chase is the knowledge that any of the 12 eligible drivers can put together a 10-race championship run, as Tony Stewart proved last year when he won five races in the Chase and overtook Edwards for the title.
"That's why it's so painful for Kyle and I, to be on the outside, because we know anything can happen," Edwards said. "What if I go out there in this 99 car, and me and (crew chief) Chad (Norris) win six races and dominate. How sickening would that be, to not be in it?"
NEW SAFETY MEASURES FOR 2013 CAR
Earlier this week, NASCAR issued a technical bulletin to Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series teams mandating enhanced safety measures for 2013 cars.
Starting in January of next year, teams will be required to strengthen the roll cage through the addition of a forward roof bar and a center roof support bar that will intersect near the front center of the roll cage.
The new safety measure comes as the result of extensive testing at NASCAR's Research and Development center in Concord, N.C.
A RESPONSIBLE PAINT SCHEME
In Sunday's GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, Chase driver Kevin Harvick will sport a "Designate a Driver" paint scheme on his No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet, in support of Anheuser-Busch's "Global Be(er) Responsible Day" on Sept. 21.
The paint scheme promotes Budweiser's initiative to encourage adults to drink responsibly and to pledge to do so through nationofresponsibledrinkers.com. Harvick himself has taken the pledge.
"For me to take the pledge to be a responsible drinker, it's very easy, because in my profession, in what I do, there's no room for error," Harvick said. "Off the race track, there's no room for error either. ... When you're drinking and having a good time, don't take it for granted.
"Go out, get a designated driver, call a taxi. It's very easy to make it simple, have a good time and go home safe."