Edwards focused on winning at Phoenix

AVONDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 13:  Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, sits in his car during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 13, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

AVONDALE, AZ – NOVEMBER 13: Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, sits in his car during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 13, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Unlike the three drivers behind him in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings — Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Joey Logano — Carl Edwards won’t be in a must-win situation in Sunday’s Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix.

But don’t tell him that.

Sure, Edwards is in fifth place in the standings, one shy of the last transfer position, but he’s seven points behind Martin Truex Jr. in fourth, with Sunday’s race the cutoff point for the Championship Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

And if any of the three drivers below Edwards happens to win on Sunday and joins Jeff Gordon as an automatic qualifier for Homestead, the number of spots available on points will shrink from three to two.

That’s why Edwards is approaching the race at PIR much as Keselowski, Busch and Logano are.

“We feel like, if you look at the scenarios, we’ve really got to perform here,” Edwards said after posting the fourth-fastest speed in Friday’s opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice session. “We have to win this race – that’s our mission.

“We have to qualify well, we have to make good decisions and, really, we have to have some speed. We’re approaching this race as a must-win race. That’s the only way to guarantee our spot. If one of the guys behind us leap-frogs us and wins, it’s going to be a tall order to advance, so we just have to give it all we’ve got.”

Edwards qualified fourth for Sunday’s race.

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