It started with more promise than many other NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers. Finish the season before tied for the championship but settle for second place because of the tie breaker. Carl Edwards and his Fastenal Ford Team were just supposed to pick up where they left off.
When NASCAR picked it back up at Daytona, Carl Edwards appeared to also pick it back up by getting the pole. He wasn’t able to capitalize on that great start but was able to finish a respectable eighth place. The very next race a Phoenix he didn’t have a very good race and finished seventeenth. This dropped him to tenth in the standings. The next race at Las Vegas was the first of his three top five finishes. He finished fifth that day and moved himself back up in the standings to fifth.
The next race was at Bristol; Carl finished a dismal 39th place and dropped him to fifteenth in the standings. Even though it was only the fourth race of the season it set the tone for the rest of the season. Carl would seesaw back and forth from ninth in the standings to fifteenth in the standings.
Carl Edwards’s crew chief Bob Osborne had to leave the team for personal reasons before the Brickyard 400, only 19 races into the season. Bob was replaced from within Roush Fenway Racing with Chad Norris. The replacement was described as more of a step sideways than a step down or up. It didn’t help matters any, the Seesaw stopped moving up and down to mostly down.
Carl said, “Chad and I have talked about this at length. When he came in, the first we qualified second at Indy and have had cars that were fast but still had some problems. I think that Chad as he gains experience and I am not sure exactly what he is going to do next year but he will get more experience on the pit box and I think that he will be the man.”
Carl Edwards ended up with only three top five finishes and 13 top ten finishes. In 2011 Carl lead 903 laps on his way to his second place finish. He led a dismal 254 laps this past season. That is the key to his poor performance; he has to lead more laps next year.
They are not waiting for his team to step it up. Roush Fenway Racing is replacing his team with the No. 17 team of Matt Kenseth which finished the season seventh in the standings. This includes veteran championship winning crew chief Jimmy Fennig.
“He is old school in a number of ways but it seems like he does a very good job of getting the most out of all his people.” Carl said, “That is the model crew chief right now. A guy who doesn’t know everything but is a guy that can get everything and the best out of the people around them.”
When Jimmy was asked about replacing long time Edwards crew chief Bob Osborne, Jimmy said, “Bob actually worked as my race engineer years ago, so the only thing Carl probably has to get used to is the fact that I’m a grumpy old man (laughing).”
Look for good things from Carl Edwards and Jimmy Fennig next season. Starting a new season with a new car and new team might just be what it takes.