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Cup Preview: Stars are aligned for Edwards to shine in 600

May 27, 2011, Sporting News Wire Service, NASCAR.com

Carl Edwards has not had a wonderful working relationship with Charlotte Motor Speedway through the years. Not according to Edwards himself, at least. He actually maintains that he has stunk there.

But there are signs Edwards may soon have to adjust the way he describes his relationship with the speedway. Signs so encouraging that few would be surprised if he wins Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600.

"This is the race that I train and work out for all year. This race is made for me. It's a long, grueling marathon of a race."

--CARL EDWARDS

And Edwards might be one of them: "I think that we figured some things out," he said last week about the 1.5-mile track.

Though Edwards, a veteran of 240 Cup starts, has won 19 times in the series, he has yet to win a points race at Charlotte.

And though he has come close -- twice he has finished third -- he insists, "We really have struggled at this race track. I have. Jack [Roush, Edwards' team owner] has had a ton of success here, but Bob [Osborne, Edwards' crew chief] and I, I think it's a fair statement that we have not been very good here and sometimes terrible."

Perhaps the fact his Roush Fenway Racing organization has won seven times in Charlotte -- four times in the 600 -- has induced the feeling of disappointment. Perhaps it is the fat zero in the win column.

Whatever it is, it could all change Sunday night as there is ample reason to believe that terrible could turn to wonderful for Edwards when the checkered flag falls on one of the Cup Series' crown jewels.

First, there is the endurance nature of the race.

"This is the race that I train and work out for all year," said Edwards, much of whose racing persona is built around his physical fitness. "This race is made for me. It's a long, grueling marathon of a race."

Then there is that recent history at CMS. Last fall he qualified second, led a couple of laps and finished 12th. And the last time he took to Charlotte -- last Saturday night in the Sprint All-Star Race -- he dominated and won.

"Bob and the guys have done a really good job, and I think it bodes well for the 600 for sure," Edwards said after the All-Star victory. "I would hope that we can come back here next week with as good or a better car and definitely a lot more confidence than we had before we got here this weekend, so that's good. This is the first time I've come here and run like this, so it's huge for me."

Osborne called Edwards' first Cup victory at Charlotte huge for everybody.

"I think everyone on the team is looking forward to racing at Charlotte again this weekend after winning the All-Star Race last Saturday," he said. "That was a huge win for our team."

Also boding well for Edwards is the early season roll he is on. He has been the points leader since finishing third April 9 at Texas. His Fords have been so fast that he has finished seventh or better in nine of the 11 points races this season.

"If you look at our whole season, we've run really well at almost every race track," Edwards said. "It's been a really good season, and that's because of Jack and Robbie Reiser [general manager of RFR] and all the guys back at the shop working so hard to get everything in order."

Who's Hot / Who's Not

Hot
• Joey Logano and Regan Smith lead all driver with seven top-10 starts in 11 races this season.
• Carl Edwards has five consecutive top-10 finishes, the longest active streak.
• Clint Bowyer has top-10 finishes in six of his past seven starts.
• Kyle Busch has finished in the top 10 in the past seven races at Charlotte, the longest current streak.
• Jamie McMurray finished first and second in his two Charlotte starts last season.
• Jeff Burton and David Reutimann are still searching for their first top-10 of the season.
• Juan Montoya has finished 23rd or worse in his past four starts.
• Kevin Harvick has just one top-10 in his past 14 starts at Charlotte.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. has finished 22nd or worst in his past five Charlotte starts.
• Charlotte marks the 75th race since Brad Keselowski won his first Cup race at Talladega.

A victory Sunday would underscore all of that big time.