All things considered, Carl Edwards could’ve had a much worse result to his Eliminator Round opener on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.
Edwards was having a middle-of-the-road Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 before he got tangled in a big crash with less than 65 laps to go that was triggered by a mechanical problem for fellow Chaser Brad Keselowski.
The incident was already in progress when Edwards came on the scene and was met by a spinning Martin Truex Jr (pictured, right). Edwards took damage to his No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford but by being the first car one lap down at the time, he wound up earning the free pass to return to the lead lap.
With the help of that break, Edwards ended up finishing 20th on a day he found “pretty frustrating.”
“We planned on running a lot better than that, but at the end of the day we still came home 20th and we could have lost our minds there,” he said. “It’s not what we wanted. [Crew chief] Jimmy [Fennig] and I talked about it. We’ll go to Texas and go for the win. We’ll go to Phoenix and go for the win there and that’s all we can do.”
Considering that Edwards is now 15 points behind the fourth-place cutoff for the Sprint Cup Championship Race, it may well take a victory over the next two weeks for him to get to Homestead with a chance at the title.
The good news for him and the 99 team is that Edwards has had success on both tracks with three victories at Texas, and two more at Phoenix.
“…We missed a little bit of an opportunity, but we ran fifth at Kansas and eighth at Charlotte [1.5-mile ovals in the Contender Round],” he said. “We’ve got a bunch of wins at Texas, so there’s nothing saying we can’t go there and do it. We’ve got a test coming up this week and we’ll keep digging. These guys don’t quit.”
As he alludes to, Edwards and RFR will now shift its immediate focus to a test this week at Homestead that will also include fellow Chase teams Stewart-Haas Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, and Team Penske.