News & Media

Victory circle awaits as Edwards comes full circle

March 10, 2012, Mark Aumann,

When Carl Edwards took advantage of Tony Stewart's pit-road gaffe to win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last March, he assumed that victory would be a springboard to future success. After all, the last time Edwards won at Vegas, he went on to score a total of nine victories.

He was right, up to a point. Edwards put together an amazingly consistent 2011 season -- which included 26 top-10s, 19 top-fives and seven runner-up finishes, including three consecutive to finish out the year.

One big difference

Carl Edwards' 9.3 average finish in 2011 was the best of his career, edging the 9.5 he averaged in 2008. The seasons compare favorably ... with one notable exception:

Laps Led1,282903
Lead Lap Fin.3031
Avg. Start12.39.4
AVg. Finish9.59.3
Final Rank22

However, he never got back to Victory Lane.

"There were many races last year that we very well could have won if things would have gone slightly different," Edwards said. "We obviously ran very well. I think we had the best average [finish] we've ever had."

If you put yourself in a position to contend week after week, normally the law of averages will eventually work in your favor. And Edwards did that in 2011, but didn't reap the benefits.

Still, Edwards doesn't feel slighted. He believes the odds eventually will even out, perhaps as soon as Sunday's Kobalt Tools 400, where he'll start 21st.

"The way this sport works is, if you run that well, you'll win your fair share of races," Edwards said. "Any week would be a good week to go ahead and win another one, so this would be just fine."

Perhaps Edwards' patience stems from the start his Roush Fenway Racing teammates have had to the 2012 season. Matt Kenseth won the Daytona 500, and Greg Biffle has put together back-to-back third-place finishes.

Now the series visits the first intermediate track of the season -- a major strength for the No. 99 Ford team last year. Based on how the car felt during this weekend's practices, Edwards said he expects to pick up right where he left off.

"I think we're as good as we were last year at this time, which is huge for us," Edwards said. "To run as well as we have for as long as we have and to seemingly have not fallen off over the winter, that's huge.

"Anytime you can do that in this sport that's good, so we'll find out on Sunday."

Because intermediate tracks dominate the schedule -- particularly during the Chase -- Edwards said Las Vegas can provide an early season snapshot as to who might be in contention six months from now.

The key for Edwards is to carry positive momentum from Sunday's race into the spring and summer.

"Now, you might not get the result that you deserve this weekend and the points might not shake out and they might not represent the speed that everyone has," Edwards said. "But you can bet if a guy has a good, strong run here, that can give you a lot of confidence going to the rest of these race tracks -- Texas and Fontana and Kansas and all these places that rely on this type of setup.

"So I think this is one that I've been looking forward to for a number of reasons, just [to] see where we stand and what we've got."

Now that he's back at Las Vegas, Carl Edwards' wait is just about over.