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.”