Carl Edwards is used to seeing the green flag fly from behind the wheel of his Roush Fenway Ford Fusion or Mustang, but this weekend he’ll get a truly different perspective as he serves as Honorary Starter for Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

As part of its multi-year sponsorship agreement with BMS that runs through 2014, the Region Area Ford Dealers have continually looked for ways to activate and improve the race weekend experience for fans.  Ford Fan Friday, where race fans can attend Q&A sessions and get autographs from their favorite drivers, has become a highly-anticipated event.  The inclusion of Edwards in this special role continues that philosophy.

“It’s an honor.  I’ve sat in the grandstands to watch races at Bristol and I’ve been fortunate to race and win there as well, but this will be something totally different and I’m really excited about it,” said Edwards, who won the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Bristol in 2007.  “I think Ford has a revolutionary and smart technology with EcoBoost that delivers both performance and fuel economy, which is something fans care about.”

Edwards, who won the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship in 2007, is tied for third on the all-time NASCAR Nationwide Series win list with 37.  He has made 244 career starts as a driver in the series, but this will be his first as a race official.

Ford EcoBoost, which is coming off its first NASCAR victory as a primary sponsor last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr., uses turbo-charging and direct gasoline injection to boost engine output, reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency by as much as 20 percent.

Ford plans to offer EcoBoost engines in 11 vehicles in 2012, up from seven in 2011, and tripling the capacity of EcoBoost-equipped Ford vehicles. Expanded availability in high-volume nameplates helps make fuel economy more affordable for hundreds of thousands of drivers.

In addition to Edwards’ participation, Ford Group Vice-President of Global Marketing, Sales & Service Jim Farley will serve as the race’s Grand Marshal.   Farley has been a driving force behind the use of racing as a marketing tool for Ford EcoBoost.

“Reaching out to the millions of race fans in this country and around the world, will help us spread the message about Ford EcoBoost engines not just being a smart technology from Ford, but a way for consumers to save money at the fuel pump with increased fuel mileage,” said Farley.  “Fans appreciate getting good fuel mileage, whether it be getting to the race track to watch an event, or seeing their favorite driver use it to their advantage to win a race.”

There were a record 127,683 EcoBoost-equipped vehicles sold by Ford in 2011.

EcoBoost engines are a key element of the power of choice Ford offers buyers seeking fuel-efficient solutions. From EcoBoost to hybrids and from plug-in hybrids to full electric vehicles, this year Ford will offer nine vehicles reaching an anticipated 40 mpg or more.

“Carl Edwards is the perfect choice for us to be the Honorary Starter because he embodies the balance of exciting performance and environmental awareness,” said Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing.  “In addition to owning a vehicle with an Ford EcoBoost engine, Carl has taken part in projects like the Fusion Hybrid 1,000-Mile Challenge that showcases our company philosophy of producing safe, fuel-efficient, and fun-to-drive vehicles.”

By 2013, Ford plans to offer an EcoBoost engine in up to 90 percent of its North American nameplates, supporting global sales of 1.5 million EcoBoost-powered vehicles per year.