Season Review: Carl Edwards
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on November 24, 2013 | 1:00 P.M. EST
Edwards scored a pair of victories and made the Chase to highlight his 2013 Sprint Cup Series campaign. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)
Carl Edwards scored a pair of victories and made the Chase to highlight his 2013 Sprint Cup Series campaign.
The Roush Fenway Racing driver scored nine top-five and 16 top-10 finishes during the season along with winning a pair of pole positions.
But ultimately, Edwards wasn’t able to mount a charge for the championship once the Chase rolled around and he wound up finishing 13th in this year’s expanded field of drivers.
Edwards went into the season with veteran crew chief Jimmy Fennig calling the shots after team owner Jack Roush shuffled personnel during the winter.
"We are excited about this change on both fronts," Roush said at the time. "Pairing two highly successful veterans like Carl and Jimmy should be quite a matchup and it is our expectation, based on what Jimmy has been able to accomplish with many high-profile drivers, that it will provide the spark to get the No. 99 program and Carl back into championship form."
The year started off positively for Edwards when he won the second race of the season, at Phoenix International Raceway. He led 122 laps, including the final 78, on his way to winning for the first time since March 2011.
Understandably, Edwards was very optimistic about the season ahead after his big day in the desert.
"I’m telling you, we're back," said Edwards. "This is going to be good. Whatever it is you're doing out there, don’t lose hope. You just keep digging and things can work out. This is awesome – one of the coolest wins of my life."
Unfortunately, that momentum didn’t continue through the next stretch of races when Edwards finished outside the top 10 over six of the next 12 events.
While Edwards stayed near the front of the Sprint Cup Series standings for much of the summer, his performance started to wane as the season went on with back-to-back efforts of 21st and 29th at Kentucky and Daytona in July, and a 39th at the Bristol night race in August particularly disappointing.
However, Edwards was able to bounce back with his second win of the year at the Richmond International Raceway regular-season finale.
"We're going to win the championship," proclaimed Edwards, who finished second in the 10-race title series in 2008 and 2011. "That's our mission. That seemed like a crazy idea a month-and-a-half ago. Everyone's rallied together and I can't say enough about all the guys at the shop. This championship would mean the world to me."
But that optimism was quickly met by a tough dose of reality when Edwards spun his wheels running into the playoffs.
He was only able to manage two top-10 finishes in the Chase with a fifth-place Kansas run his best effort. A 35th-place performance at Dover and 37th at Texas, after winning the pole but getting knocked out with a blown engine, were particularly damaging to Edwards.
He ended the Chase 137 points behind champion Jimmie Johnson.
Edwards will return to Roush Fenway Racing with crew chief Fennig for the 2014 season.
Motor Racing Network continues our countdown to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards in Las Vegas with a look at the 12th-place finisher, Kasey Kahne, on Monday, Nov. 25. MRN will broadcast the Awards on Dec. 6 starting at 8 p.m. (ET), with live streaming at MRN.com.