Last March at Phoenix International Raceway, Carl Edwards snapped a 70-race winless streak. And last fall, he was only a lap and a half’s worth of fuel from a season sweep there.
This weekend, the Sprint Cup Series returns to the one-mile PIR oval, and he’s confident that he can be a contender once again.
During an interview with Rick Allen and Jeff Burton on today’s edition of NASCAR AMERICA on NBCSN, Edwards trumpeted his Roush Fenway Racing team’s ability to find more speed in their Fords as a reason for why he’s been strong lately in the desert.
“The secret is we’ve been building really good race cars,” he said when Burton asked him about his secret to success at PIR. “[Crew chief] Jimmy Fennig and those guys, everyone at the shop – you spent a lot of time at Roush and you know how hard those guys work. But they’ve really stepped it up.
“I think our cars are better, we’ve worked better as a team, our tests have been better. And Jimmy, last year, he found some stuff – he and Dave McDonald, our shock guy, they worked on a couple of things that really helped out. The track’s great, the car drives great, and I hope nothing’s changed.”
But while Edwards is understandably looking forward to Phoenix, he’s also had time to think about last week’s Daytona 500.
Edwards was a late contender in The Great American Race, but lost the lead to eventual winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. down the backstretch with 17 laps to go.
He eventually was forced to swallow a 17th-place finish thanks to being involved in a last-lap accident.
“Looking back on it – my spotter, Jason Hedlesky, and I talked quite a bit, [team general manager] Robbie Reiser and I talked – I think it might have worked better with [teammate] Greg [Biffle] if I would have stayed behind Greg when he was leading and not taken the opportunity to jump out to the lead,” he said.
“I think we would’ve had a much better chance of one of us winning the race. But I had to go for the lead, I had some fun, I learned a little bit out there, and Dale Jr. and those guys were able to get by me.
“But, man, that was pretty cool to be leading the Daytona 500. I had a blast.”