Could Carl Edwards be a Chase sleeper Sunday in Kansas?


With Greg Biffle’s elimination from the Chase last weekend at Dover, Carl Edwards is now Roush Fenway Racing’s proverbial last bullet in the chamber.

Edwards has been overshadowed by the other title contenders going into Sunday’s Contender Round opener at Kansas Speedway, perhaps a byproduct of RFR’s largely so-so performance this year.

But with two wins in 2014 (Bristol in the spring, Sonoma in the summer), Edwards has been the team’s best. And with 10 Top-10 finishes in 14 Cup races at Kansas, he’s coming to a track that he definitely likes.

Then there’s the recent test he had with RFR at Texas Motor Speedway. Could any of the lessons that RFR learned in the Lone Star State help him do well in a Contender Round that starts with two 1.5-milers at Kansas and Charlotte before ending at Talladega?

If so, then Edwards might have a chance to move on the Eliminator Round even if he doesn’t have a win in his pocket before ‘Dega – which, in contrast to perhaps the majority of the Chase drivers, he’s actually looking forward to because of the new Chase format.

“I think this format perfectly suits our situation in that we have not been the dominant car all year, but right now we are tied with guys like Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon,” Edwards said Friday in reference to the points reset that occurs before all rounds of the Chase.

“We have an opportunity now to make something happen and if I were those guys I would be frustrated but right now we are going to take advantage of this.

“For Talladega in particular, it gives us an opportunity to go out and regardless of our performance here at these two tracks, we know we have a good superspeedway program and have nothing to lose and can go race for that win.”

Still, Edwards – a native of Columbia, Missouri – desperately wants to win at Kansas, which he considers his home track on the Sprint Cup circuit.

And that hunger may be the biggest intangible in his favor here.

“To be driving here now and to be driving a Sprint Cup Series car here is almost like a dream world,” he said. “It is something I thought about every day and I just dreamed of. For me, it is really important.

“A win here would be so special. Just to race here is neat as winning at some of the other tracks I’ve won at. I am not just saying that. It is really a special place.”

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E

Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.