Steady Edwards Takes Lead to Kansas

C.Edwards-B.Osborne

Carl Edwards (right) and crew chief Bob Osborne are seeking a fourth straight top-10 finish Sunday at Kansas Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)

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If consistency wins championships, as most will agree, then Carl Edwards may well be on the way to his first Sprint Cup Series crown.

The Roush Fenway Racing driver is the only one of the 12 competitors in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup to post top-10 finishes in all three of this year’s post-season races.

He’ll eye No. 4 in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway, which is Round 4 of this year’s title series.

“Some of that is luck and some of that is bad luck on the other guys’ part,” Edwards said of his fast start to this year’s Chase.  “I do believe our team is as strong, or stronger, than it’s ever been.”

Edwards’ third-place finish last weekend at Dover lifted him into a tie for the points lead with Kevin Harvick, but they have seven drivers within 19 points of the top who’ll be breathing down their necks come Sunday.

“What we’re doing right now is (making) good pit stops, we’re qualifying better and our teamwork is better,” Edwards said.  “We’ve all matured as a group.  All those things put us in a better position than we’ve ever been to win the championship.”

Edwards, the No. 5 seed going into the post-season, is in his fifth Chase and has a best finish of second – 69 points behind Jimmie Johnson – in 2008.  He won a series-leading nine races that year, including three of the last four.

“This is a little bit different than 2008, when we were winning all those races,” Edwards said.  “We don’t have just one trick that we’re doing better.  We haven’t figured out something with the ‘new car,’ like we did then.”

What Edwards has figured out is a fast way around Kansas Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval.  Although he’s still looking for his first victory, the No. 99 Ford has registered top-10 finishes in its last four outings and six of the last seven – including fifth place earlier this season.

“There is absolutely nothing better than racing in front of your family and friends at your hometown track,” said Edwards, who hails from Columbia, Mo. – about two hours east of Kansas Speedway.  “A win there would mean the world to me.  We’re going into the weekend tied for the (points) lead with seven races to go and we’re coming off a good finish at Dover.

“We’d like to build on that and Kansas would be the perfect track to do it.”

Crew chief Bob Osborne echoes those sentiments.

“Everyone on this team knows how important this race is to Carl,” Osborne said.  “It would be great to gain points at Kansas and (next week) at Charlotte in case we need them at Talladega and Martinsville later this month.”

Sprint Cup Series teams will hit the track for opening practice at 12:30 p.m. (EDT) on Friday with qualifying at 5:10 p.m.  Motor Racing Network – “The Voice of NASCAR” – will have live coverage of Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway beginning at 1 p.m.  The broadcast, to be anchored by Barney Hall and Joe Moore, can be heard on MRN’s network of affiliates as well as SiriusXM NASCAR Radio/Channel 90.

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