Saturday, February 24, 2018
Sports

Carl Edwards senses that a Sprint Cup victory is getting closer

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Carl Edwards has done just about everything except win during this NASCAR season.

Edwards is ready for that to change, beginning, he hopes, in today's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. He'll start from the pole in attempt to do that.

The drought is something that Edwards, who has six top-10 finishes through seven Sprint Cup races in 2016, can be philosophical about.

"That's how this goes sometimes," Edwards said Friday. "There have been times in my career where I probably shouldn't have won and it sort of came easy. Right now we've had fast cars and we haven't been able to capitalize."

Edwards has 25 career Cup victories, including three at Bristol. His best finish this season was second at Phoenix. But he had a chance to improve on that last week at Texas, where he led 124 laps before finishing seventh.

Edwards started from the pole and ran among the top three for most of the race. But after a restart on Lap 222, he had to return to pit road with a loose tire, which doomed his chances to win.

"It's so early in the season and so many guys are competitive," Edwards said. "You can't really count on anything. Last week I felt like it could come down to our team and (Martin Truex) and neither one of us could get it done. Who knows."

Despite not visiting Victory Lane yet, Edwards' consistently strong finishes can perhaps be attributed to NASCAR's new low-downforce aerodynamic package, of which Edwards has been a consistent and firm supporter.

It might not be until today that it's fully known how effective the package will be on Bristol's high-banked, 0.533-mile layout — one of the shortest on the Cup circuit.

"I think it's too soon to tell, but I believe that the lower downforce has been better across the board," Edwards said. "Like I said over and over, I applaud NASCAR for doing it. I think that direction is the right direction. (Bristol), regardless of downforce, it always has a way of producing really good races. You've got multiple grooves, its low-speed enough, but wide enough that you can do a lot of racing here."

Edwards is one of four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers among the top five starters for the race (Matt Kenseth also will start on the front row, Denny Hamlin fourth and Kyle Busch fifth). Team Penske's Joey Logano will line up third.

"Two weeks in a row we've had great cars in qualifying," Edwards said. "Last (week's race) is not how (we) wanted it to go. We have to make the car work the last 200 laps."

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