I have always liked the 33 year old driver of the Rousch/Fenway Aflac Ford, but will have to admit I have spent some time trying to figure out what has happened to Carl Edwards. It came as no surprise, that after leading the Sprint Cup points for a large part of the 2011 season, he ended up in second place while Tony Stewart celebrated his third Cup Championship. He showed us nothing in 2012, and pretty much disappeared from most conversations in, and around NASCAR.
I hesitate to lay all the blame for Carl’s 2012 performance at his feet, but put most of it on the Cat in the Hat, and his organization. I remember an interview in early 2007 by the late Benny Parsons with Greg Biffle, where Greg pointed out how little testing, then Rousch Racing had done on the COT car prior to bringing it to the track. With Rousch having trouble keeping good sponsorship, I’m sure the R&D, as well as the testing budgets are not on a par with those of Hendrick Motor Sports.
I do however, put some of the blame on Carl and his team. Although he doesn’t have the talent that Matt Kenseth has, I feel like he should be more competitive, and should have won the 2011 championship. After finishing second to Trevor Bane in NASCAR’s first Love Bug race (you Florida readers will know what I’m talking about), he won the Kobalt Tools 400 two weeks later in Las Vegas, and that was it for the year. Yeah, I know he won the Sprint All Star race at Charlotte, but that doesn’t count for points.
Carl finished in the top ten in every race after the fall Bristol race except the Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega where he came in 11th. He finished second four times during that stretch, with three in a row to finish the season. Trouble was, Tony Stewart finished first.
With 301 starts in 8 1/2 years, Carl Edwards has only 19 wins on his resume. He picked up four wins in his first full season in 2005, but by far his best season was 2008 where he won nine times, and finished the year 69 points behind Jimmie Johnson in second place. He has shown throughout his career that he runs well on the Chase tracks, but he just hasn’t been able to close the deal on the championship.
With the departure of Matt Kenseth at the end of the season, Edwards will become the RFR marquee entry in 2013. One can only hope the new 6th Gen car will improve their situation on the #99 team. If Carl Edwards doesn’t get into Victory Lane again pretty soon, he will be too old to perform his usual back flip after a win. That would be a shame, the back flips were sometimes more exciting than his wins.
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