Carl Edwards & Jimmy Fennig 2014

Chase Capsules: Carl Edwards

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99 – Carl Edwards
Team: Roush Fenway Racing
Crew Chief: Jimmy Fennig
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Best Finish: 2nd (2011)
Chase History: 7th Chase Appearance, Best finish of 2nd in 2011

Regular Season Recap: In his final season at Roush Fenway Racing, Carl Edwards hopes to leave with the biggest going away present of all, the Sprint Cup championship. His season to date has been good for the most part, with two wins (Bristol in the spring and Sonoma). But he’s also had struggles, particularly at some tracks that he typically does well at (Michigan, Pocono and Daytona). Edwards’ biggest problem thus far has been consistency from week to week. He needs to significantly improve upon that in the Chase.

Jerry’s Take: With Edwards heading to Joe Gibbs Racing after this season, he has plenty of incentive to prove his close runner-up finish to Tony Stewart for the 2011 Sprint Cup championship was no fluke.

Edwards also has the incentive to bring a Cup crown to crew chief Jimmy Fennig, who will step down from the pit box at the end of this season and take an inside role at Roush Fenway Racing in 2015.

If Edwards can dramatically improve his overall consistency in the upcoming Chase and cut down on mistakes and missed opportunities that have cost him too much already, he may have a shot at reaching all the way to the third round. But it will take a Superman-like effort for Edwards to be one of the four drivers left in the winner-take-all season finale at Homestead.

Chris’s Take: As Jerry notes above, I also see an Eliminator Round berth for Edwards if he and Roush Fenway Racing can put together Top-10s against the likes of the Hendrick, Penske, and Gibbs drivers. But the competition is simply too strong for them to crack the Championship at Homestead without some problems from those aforementioned teams…Although Edwards is definitely capable of capitalizing on those mistakes should they arise.

Tony’s Take: I could see Edwards’ Chase occurring in one of two ways. He either goes out early, or makes a shock run through the opening rounds. While he has had the occasional hot streak in the past, I don’t really see it coming together at the right moment this year.

Given some of the surprise drivers in the Chase – Aric Almirola and AJ Allmendinger primarily – it shouldn’t be too difficult for Edwards to advance past the Challenger round. But I can’t put him past the Contender round. He’s not the Ford driver with the best shot at a title; Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano are better title contenders this year.

Carl Edwards’ Career Statistics at Chase Tracks
Chicagoland (1.5 mile) – Zero wins, 3 Top-5s, 3 Top-10s in 9 starts
New Hampshire (1 mile) – Zero wins, 2 Top-5s, 5 Top-10s in 20 starts
Dover (1 mile) – One win, 8 Top-5s, 12 Top-10s in 20 starts
Kansas (1.5 mile) – Zero wins, 5 Top-5s, 10 Top-10s in 14 starts
Charlotte (1.5 mile) – Zero wins, 6 Top-5s, 12 Top-10s in 19 starts
Talladega (2.66 mile) – Zero wins, 12 Top-5s, 5 Top-10s in 20 starts
Martinsville (half-mile) – Two wins, 9 Top-5s, 15 Top-10s in 21 starts
Texas (1.5-mile) – Three wins, 6 Top-5s, 8 Top-10s in 19 starts
Phoenix (1 mile) – Two wins, 7 Top-5s, 12 Top-10s in 20 starts
Homestead-Miami (1.5 mile) – Two wins, 5 Top-5s, 7 Top-10s in 10 starts

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Report: No Mexico, 16 races expected on 2016 IndyCar schedule

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IndyCar chairman Mark Miles doesn’t expect the 2016 Verizon IndyCar season to begin in Mexico in February next year, according to a report by USA Today.

Though Miles said the Mexico race was “unlikely,” he believes the final schedule will 16 races at 15 venues over the course of seven months.

Miles said the series is waiting for a “highly, highly likely” event to be approved by a board around Oct. 13, going on to say it wasn’t Pocono Raceway.

“If we had to, we probably could put this out, in theory, sooner, but we want to go through the formality and respect the process of a formal approval from one of the promoters,” Miles said.

Miles said the Mexico City race has been put on hold due to concerns for proper promotion for the event, which would be the series’ first outside the United States since racing in Brazil in 2013.

“The process they needed to go through to get everything lined up has not really left a lot of time to be confident that everything can be done to properly promote the first race,” Miles told USA Today. “So I think the conversation is very much about ‘17. We just kind of ran out of time for ‘16.”

This is what is know about the 2016 IndyCar schedule so far.

Either the track, IndyCar, or an IndyCar support series (Pirelli World Challenge) have announced these dates for 2016:

March 13: St. Petersburg, Fla.
April 17: Long Beach, Calif.
April 24: Birmingham, Ala.
May 14: Indianapolis, In. (Indy GP)
May 29: Indianapolis, In. (100th Indy 500)
June 4-5: Detroit, Mich.
June 11: Fort Worth, Texas
June 26: Elkhart Lake, Wis.
July 31: Lexington, Ohio
Sept. 4: Boston, Mass.
Sept. 18: Sonoma, Calif.

These dates are not formal but are highly likely for 2016, per media reports:

April 2: Phoenix, AZ
July 17: Toronto, Ontario

These tracks have been rumored, but are yet to announce the status of IndyCar races for 2016:

Iowa Speedway
Pocono Raceway
The Milwaukee Mile
Gateway International Raceway

Williams hopes to improve on 2014 performance in Russian GP

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At this weekend’s Russian GP, Williams Martini Racing is looking for more of the same from Valtteri Bottas and a little improvement from Felipe Massa.

Last year, Bottas started and finished third while Lewis Hamilton ran away with the win, finishing 13 seconds over Nico Rosberg and 17 over Bottas in the inaugural race at the Sochi Autodrom.

Meanwhile, Massa started 18th after a fuel flow issue knocked him out of the first round of qualifying and managed an 11th-place finish.

Bottas and Massa enter the Sochi race fifth and sixth in the driver standings.

“We had a good result last year in Russia so we’re expecting another strong weekend and a good collection of points,” said Bottas in a release. “We all know the track now and it has a really good flow, with the long straights a good fit for our car.”

Bottas has finished in the top five in each of the last three races, two of which were won by Hamilton.

“Pace-wise we were close to Mercedes in Japan and I think we can be close again in Sochi, just like we were in 2014,” Bottas said, who also noted after Japan the team is set to turn its focus to its 2016 car.

Massa, who has two podium finishes this year, will try to bounce back from a DNF at Marina Bay and a 17th-place finish in Japan.

“I hope to make amends for qualifying last year and I’m confident we can have a competitive race,” Massa said in a team release.

“Russia is a very nice track with a few long straights which makes it interesting for overtaking,” Massa said of the 18-turn track. “The circuit has almost everything, starting with a straight and then moving into high-speed corners and then very slow corners in the middle sector. This makes setting up the car really important and the importance of downforce evident.”

The Russian Grand Prix can been seen on NBCSN on Sunday at 7 am ET.