NASCAR: Top drivers of 2014 – No. 9 Carl Edwards

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Carl Edwards

Season finish: 9th

2014 Season Stats: 2 Wins, 7 Top-5s, 14 Top-10, 0 Poles.

What went right: In a season that was largely down for Roush Fenway Racing, Edwards carried its standard in his final season with the team. This year’s Sprint Cup season opened with seven different winners in the first seven races, and Edwards contributed to that run with a win at Bristol. Later on in the summer, he captured his inaugural road course win in hilly Sonoma. When it came time for the Chase, not many expected Edwards to be a threat to make the Championship 4. But enough consistent results and no major disasters enabled him to advance all the way to the Eliminator Round before he was finally knocked out.

What went wrong: Edwards may have got in the Chase early, but he and RFR struggled mightily to find the overall speed necessary to fight the leaders from Stewart-Haas Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, and Team Penske, which took over as Ford’s top team and relegated RFR to No. 2. A particularly grim moment came in June at Michigan International Speedway, where RFR has been a perennial power over the years. But instead of contending, Edwards and teammates Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. slogged to mid-pack finishes (Biffle 20th, Edwards 23rd, Stenhouse 27th).

2015 Prospectus: After running full-time at RFR since 2005, Edwards is moving on to a fourth car for Joe Gibbs Racing, the No. 19 Toyota Camry. Darian Grubb, who guided JGR’s Denny Hamlin into the Championship 4 in 2014, has moved over to the 19 pit box to be Edwards’ crew chief. With three solid teammates (Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch) and a group that’s the clear No. 1 at Toyota, Edwards stands to have a more competitive season ahead of him in 2015.