Edwards finds bright spot in challenging position

Carl Edwards (Getty Images)
Carl Edwards (Getty Images)
Carl Edwards (Getty Images)

FORT WORTH, Tex. – Count on Carl Edwards to find the silver lining in last Sunday’s hard crash at Martinsville.

The wreck left Edwards last in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings, 32 points behind Joe Gibbs Racing teammate in fourth place.

Realistically, Edwards must win either on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway or the following week at Phoenix to preserve a shot at the Sprint Cup championship. But Edwards found a source of optimism—namely the two tracks that chose out the Chase’s Round of 8.

Edwards put his NO. 19 Toyota on the pole for the April race at Texas and led 124 of 334 laps before finishing seventh. A month earlier at Phoenix, he lost a drag race to the finish line against Kevin Harvick, finishing second by .010 seconds.

With speed at both tracks in the spring, Edwards hopes the next two venues might be his saving grace.

“So, yeah, as soon as we had the tire trouble at Martinsville, the first thing I thought of was how fortunate we are to be going to Phoenix and Texas, because I feel like we had an opportunity to win both of those races,” Edwards said.

“We had speed at both of the tracks, and, obviously, we could’ve won both of them if things had gone a little differently. So, yeah, these are two great tracks to go to when you have to win … and practice was fast. So, hopefully it just keeps rolling along like that.”

Though Edwards’ place in the standings is hardly enviable, it does bring clarity.

“It’s not a position you want to be in–30 something points down–but yet it does make things very simple,” said Edwards, who was second fastest behind Harvick in opening Sprint Cup practice at Texas. “There’s only one direction to go, and that’s forward and, like you said, win, so that’s what we’ve got to do.

“And, really, it’s time to get to it. If we want to win the championship, we have to win Homestead anyway (in the Championship 4 race on Nov. 20), so it’s good to get in this mode. If we can get it done the next two races, it’s only going to help us at Homestead, so I think in that respect it’s good.”

Friday evening, Edwards qualifyed 9th for Sunday’s race.

SHORT STROKES

Trevor Bayne will return to the seat of the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford for the next three seasons, with continued sponsored from AdvoCare. “To be able to know I will represent them the next three seasons kind of lifts the weight off your shoulders a bit, so you can continue to build,” said Bayne, who has posted two of his three career top-five finishes this season. The other came in 2011 in the form of a stunning victory in the Daytona 500. … Matt Tifft, who has recovered from surgery this year to remove a brain tumor, will drive full-time in the NASCAR XFINITY Series for Joe Gibbs Racing next year, the team announced on Friday morning. “Yeah, it’s an incredible opportunity,” Tifft said on Friday at Texas. “The crazy thing is I remember a couple months ago just coming to Bristol to do the press conference about trying to get back in a car (after the surgery), so it’s so cool to be sitting here today announcing our plans for next year and being full-time.”

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