Chase Seed No. 2: Carl Edwards

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Some, including his own team owner Jack Roush, may have previously doubted Carl Edwards' ability to be a Cup Champion, but they only need to look at this year for affirmation of his talent and drive.

Although he's been in the shadow of Kyle Busch's stellar season, Edwards managed to put together a regular season that was, in its own right, remarkable.

In the first 26 races of the 2008 Cup season, he finished in the top 10 more than any other driver - 19 times - and won six races. His average finish is only two-tenths of a point behind Busch's for the season: Edwards has a finishing average of 10.1, while Busch's is 9.9.

Edwards won six races to Busch's eight, capturing three of them over the last six regular season races, and enters the Chase in second place, 30 points out of the lead. Edwards lost one of his win's 10 bonus points when he was hit with a stiff penalty from an infraction at Las Vegas early in the season.

But the deficit doesn't phase Edwards and he is confident that he has the consistency to battle for the championship in his fourth year of full-time Cup racing.

"It's just math. You just have to have the best average, but the way Jimmie and Kyle [Busch] and everybody is running, you might have to win to beat them. There are going to be days where you definitely have to win to beat those guys, so, for me, we're just gonna go at it just like we've been racing for the last couple months," Edwards said of his Chase strategy.

Edwards has won at three of the tracks on the Chase schedule - Atlanta, Dover and Texas - and has a finishing average better than eighth at two of the other Chase tracks - Homestead and Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Throughout his career, he has proven to have the best record on tracks between one and two miles in length, posting 24 top-five finishes in 67 starts on those types of tracks and has an average finish of 12.9.

After this season, team owner Jack Roush is now also confident in Edwards' ability to challenge for the Championship.

"I look at Carl and I'll say this and he may slap me, and he can if he wants, but he wasn't ready to win a championship until this year. I think this year he can go head to head with Jimmie Johnson or Tony Stewart or with anybody else that's there, and I think we can close the deal," Roush said of the young driver. "The championship winds up normally being determined by how well you do when things go bad. When you say, 'My car's not right. We've had a little wreck. Something's happened.' Do you go in and self-destruct or do you manage to be in the frame of mind where you can go on and get the most out of it?"

Edwards proved that he could go out and make the best of a bad situation even just last week in the last race of the regular season.

He started the race in second-place, but as the race progressed, he had to deal with both a cut tire and a late-race incident that left him mired back in the field.

Edwards persevered and came out of the race with a solid 13th-place finish and he sees that race and the issues facing the different drivers as an indication of what's to come with the Chase.

"(Richmond) was a good example, flat tire for me, Kyle getting caught up in that wreck, Jimmie going out and dominating and winning; anything can happen," Edwards said. "You know, a couple races like that and it could be a whole new field of people that weren't predicted to be up front."

"I think it's going to be defined by your bad days just like it usually is."

Chase Contenders
No. 3 - Jimmie Johnson
No. 4 - Dale Earnhardt Jr.
No. 5 - Clint Bowyer
No. 6 - Denny Hamlin
No. 7 - Jeff Burton
No. 8 - Tony Stewart
No. 9 - Greg Biffle
No. 10 - Jeff Gordon
No. 11 - Kevin Harvick
No. 12 - Matt Kenseth

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