[media-credit name=”Kirk Schroll” align=”alignright” width=”299″][/media-credit]Who would have thought that 19 races into the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season we would be talking about Carl Edwards and desperation? That answer would have been probably nobody. But here we are heading into this weekend at Indianapolis with Edwards and the No. 99 team’s backs squarely against the wall.
Heading into the Brickyard this weekend, Edwards sits 11th in NSCS points, 46 points behind Brad Keselowski for the 10th and final guaranteed spot in the chase on points. Pretty big contrast from where Edwards finished last season. Last November at Homestead, Edwards was within one spot on the track from claiming his first NSCS championship, but a red hot Tony Stewart out dueled him in the final ten races. Posting five wins to Edward’s zero in route to winning the championship in a tie breaker.
Many experts picked Edwards to once again compete and be a major contender for the 2012 championship, but 2012 has been a mixed bag of results for the Columbia, Missouri native.
The 2012 season started off with winning the pole for the Daytona 500 and a very solid eighth place finish in the race. But from that point on, it has been a mixed bag at best for Edwards as he has only recorded two top fives and nine top 10 finishes in 19 races this season, with a best finish of fifth at Las Vegas in March and Auto Club later in the same month. The biggest heartbreak came at Richmond in April where Edwards started second and dominated the race, leading 206 of the 400 laps but to have it all go for not on lap 318 when NASCAR officials determined Edwards jumped the restart resulting in a black flag and relegating him to a 10th place finish.
Looking at the broad spectrum of things here in 2012, it would be considered a banner year for some teams to have Edwards’ numbers. But for a team that has raced for championships, it has been an awfully tough pill to swallow.
Bob Osborne, the man who has been Carl’s crew chief since 2004, stepped down after the race in Loudon, New Hampshire, leading to Chad Norris taking over crew chief duties heading into the most important month and a half of the No. 99 team’s season.
The plan is simple for the No. 99 team starting this weekend at Indianapolis and that plan is to win at least one race to put themselves in a position to earn one of the two wild card spots for the chase. Judging by the remaining races on the schedule, Edwards should find tons of success heading down the stretch. He has earned nine wins, 33 top fives, and 52 top-10 finishes combined at the seven tracks that represent the home stretch towards the chase.
So the 2012 season boils down to a seven race season and the goal is simple – Victory Lane or bust for the No. 99 team. One thing you can count on there is no quit in this team and no quit in Edwards. If I were a betting man, we will more than likely see at least one signature Carl Edwards backflip in these next 7 races and that one backflip could be the one that springboards him back in the championship hunt.