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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