Edwards Is Having The Best Run Of His Career
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
Kansas City, Kan. – Carl Edwards’ eyes tightened to slits as he called up the 2010 Sprint Cup schedule inside of his head.
“Sonoma,” he said, eyes popping back open. “That was the low point. When was that?”
Well, it was this very summer. Late June. Just 10 races ago. But on Wednesday, as he stood in the empty pits at Kansas Speedway a couple of minutes after wrapping up an “enjoyable” commercial shoot for Ford, it appeared to seem much longer ago than that to Edwards.
Probably because of what has happened since. Probably because of what is happening right now in the Roush Fenway Racing driver’s career and what he thinks may happen over the next 11 weeks.
“You know,” Edwards said of late summer/early autumn 2010, “this is the best run of my career.”
Interesting statement. Interesting because Edwards has had some darn good runs in his now-six-year-old career.
Like in 2004, his first full year of driving in Cup, when he won four races and finished third in points. And 2008 when he won a series-best nine races and finished second to Jimmie Johnson in points.
His current run has been, no doubt, good – he’s had seven top-10 finishes in his last eight races. But among his best?
You bet, he insisted.
In part, he admitted, because of what had preceded his current run of success.
Edwards went through a season and a half of winless struggling. He made the Chase last season but, with just seven top-five finishes, barely. Once in the Chase, he struggled some more and wound up 11th out of the 12 playoff drivers.
This year began with more monotonous mediocrity. There were zero victories and after
finishing a distressing 29th at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., he was 12th in points and not a what many were calling a heavy favorite to hang onto that final playoff spot.
Must have been pretty tense at that point, it was suggested to him.
“For my own well being, I tried not to focus on it,” Edwards said. “All I know is that we seemed lost at the beginning of the season.
“But yes, it was stressful, man. You have to make it. You have to make the Chase myself, for my team and for my sponsors. There are truly two seasons in our sport. The pre-Chase and the playoffs. Making the Chase is our primary goal. Yes, it was stressful.”
The week after Sonoma, Edwards finished 25th at New Hampshire but it was a happier 25th. Some things went right.
After that, lots of things started going right as he finished sixth at Daytona and since then, he has had an average finish of 4.8. That’s hottest in the series. And it’s moved him up to fifth in the standings and solidly into the Chase.
Confidence, he said, is higher than the flight path of the private airplane he piloted up to Kansas Speedway Wednesday.
“It’s fun,” Edwards said. “I feel we can win every race we go to.”
He nearly did win last weekend at Atlanta, where he led a season-best 32 laps and finished second to Tony Stewart.
Edwards said his car was so good that, “I was driving along laughing. I was thinking of how this is the reason I started racing.”
Edwards said that also contributing to the inside-the-cockpit laugher was a feeling of gratitude.
“I’m just more grateful now about success,” he said. “I’m realizing what I’ve got. In 2005 and 2008, I could have won the championship. I didn’t realize how fleeting it can be. At the end of ’08 I just assumed we were going to dominate, win races. But it’s so tough.
“I mean look at Jamie McMurray. He’s won the two biggest races of the year (the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400). He’s having the season of his career. And he may not make the Chase. Just little things. I’m feeling grateful.”
Edwards was asked what his gut is telling him about the Chase. Can he win it? Can he win some races?
He paused and the eyes turned to slits again. When he looked up, he said, “I can’t tell you.”
But, he said, “I’m in a better spot now to win the championship than I’ve ever been.”
And that, those who have followed the sport the last six years know, is a pretty good spot.
– Jim Pedley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgOne Comment