Sprint Cup Driver Review: Carl Edwards

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After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, my colleague Tony DiZinno and I are taking a look back on how each of the 13 Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders fared this past year.

Rounding out the 2013 Chasers in 13th place was Carl Edwards…

CARL EDWARDS
No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford
2013 Stats: 13th Place, Two Wins, 9 Top-5s, 16 Top-10s, 524 Laps Led
Average Start: 11.9
Average Finish: 13.6
DNFs: 2

Estrada Says: Edwards snapped a long drought with a victory at Phoenix in March and was able to keep toward the top of the Sprint Cup standings through the summer – following his Phoenix win, he didn’t finish outside the Top 20 until Kentucky in late June (21st). He then made another appearance in Victory Lane at the regular season finale at Richmond, and it appeared Edwards was going to have a say in the championship outcome. But then came Chase Race No. 3 at Dover, which ended in disaster for him in the form of a broken wheel hub. More problems came later at Texas, where he won the pole but lost his engine in the race, and at the return race in Phoenix, where he ran out of gas with two laps to go while leading. Unfortunately for Edwards, good luck was in short supply when he needed it the most.

DiZinno Says: Like Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle, I think Edwards would probably admit the departure of teammate Matt Kenseth to Joe Gibbs Racing made a greater impact on the team as a whole than we thought in advance. Like Biffle, Edwards had his highlights with a pair of wins, but at no point did he and the No. 99 team recapture the consistent form that carried him to second in the 2011 championship. A good but certainly not great year that was short on luck.

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Josef Newgarden wins pole for Grand Prix of Alabama

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With time running off the clock, Josef Newgarden lapped Barber Motorsports Park with a speed of 122.773 mph to win his third career pole and first on this track in the Grand Prix of Alabama.

Newgarden was .0128 seconds faster than teammate Scott Dixon in second.

Newgarden has two previous wins at Barber. He won last year’s edition of this race after starting seventh and in 2015 from fifth.

“I didn’t know if that was going to be enough,” Newgarden said after winning the pole.

“Team Chevy has done a good job,” Newgarden said. “They’ve really given us good power this weekend – good driveability. We’re going to need some fuel mileage tomorrow, which I think we’ll have. But it’s going to get mixed up with the rain.”

Dixon’s lap of 122.750 mph was not quite enough.

“I’m sure you could pick out a number of different things on a lap when it’s that close,” Power said about what made the slight difference between him and Newgarden. “A little mistake out of 9; a little lift here or there.”

Sebastien Bourdais (122.605 mph) qualified third, with Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.159) and James Hinchliffe (121.859) rounding out the top five.

Scott Dixon was the last driver in the top six.

Fast 12

Newgarden topped this chart with a speed of 123.475 mph.

He brought Power, James Hinchcliffe, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Sebastien Bourdais along with him to the Fast 6.

Marco Andretti (122.480), Alexander Rossi (122.216), Simon Pagenaud (122.050), Robert Wickens (122.042), Zach Veach (121.784) and Ed Jones (120.984) failed to advance.

Round 1, Group 1

Newgarden posted the fastest single lap in round one, group one of qualification for the Grand Prix of Alabama with a speed of 122.550 mph.

Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe, Wickens, and Andretti also advance to the fast 12.

Taking the final slot was Jones with a speed of 119.835 mph after an off-course excursion in final practice.

This was Andretti’s first advancement to the fast 12 for the first time since 2014.

Round 1, Group 2

Power had the fastest lap of 121.570 mph.

Bourdais, Veach (who is battling food poisoning-like symptoms), Rossi, and Pagenaud grabbed positions 2-4.

Scott Dixon had an uncharacteristically slow lap of 121.006, but managed to advance to the fast 12 when the session was red-flagged for an incident involving Tony Kanaan.

With three minutes remaining, Kanaan spun into the tire barriers while leaving pit road. Since he brought out the red flag, he lost his qualification time of 119.996 mph.

Takuma Sato had slipped off-course midway through the session and posted only the Ninth-fastest speed of 120.789 mph.