Weekend wrapup (cont.)
For Edwards, it was the beginning of a bad weekend that has suddenly taken him out of serious contention for the Sprint Cup title. A poor pit stop early in Saturday night's BankofAmerica 500, followed by electrical problems that forced him to the pits for 16 laps, dropped Edwards to a 33rd-place finish. He is now fourth in the Chase, 168 points behind the leader, Jimmie Johnson.
"There is only one thing to do and that's to learn from everything this week, that's for sure," said Edwards. "I can guarantee you that if I had the week to do over again, the last seven days would be a lot different. But you just have to do what you think is right at the time and move on after that."
Edwards needs allies if he is going to have a serious shot at Johnson, but one of his chief supporters is crew chief Bob Osborne -- a man that Edwards nearly fought with over questionable pit strategy during a rain delay at Pocono earlier this summer. It was a race Edwards would go on to win.
"We'd like not to be in this position but we are confident we can overcome it," Osborne said. "We're just going to change our strategy from protecting points to going out and winning races and gaining as many points as we can. It's a bigger risk because you have to push harder than you want to do but it is fun for us.
"I'm glad to have Carl on board in this situation. The last week has been a learning experience for Carl. He is growing as a person, growing as a driver and we're growing as a team. We're all learning from all the situations we have been involved in. Next week, we'll be a better team because of it. When we get back into it, it's going to be a fight all the way to Homestead."
Just as long as that fight is on the race track and not out of the car for Edwards.
WITH FIVE TO GO, JOHNSON LOOKS SOLID FOR THREE IN A ROW
With five races to go in the Chase, Jimmie Johnson appears solid to win his third championship in a row.
Even after a sub-par performance at Lowe's, where he finished sixth, he has a 69-point lead over race winner Jeff Burton heading into Sunday's 500-lap race at Martinsville Speedway.
While no driver in NASCAR is bullet-proof in the Chase, Johnson is pretty darn close.
"He appears to look more and more so every weekend," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said of his Hendrick Motorsports teammate. "At the start of the Chase, it was really up for anybody, but he has really put together a really good consistent start to the Chase and he's gained more points than any other person has ever gained in the Chase at this point, so I feel real confident for Jimmie right now and we're going to do everything we can do to help him."
Johnson was uncharacteristically upset at his finish, even though to many drivers in The Chase, a sixth-place finish is another consistent outcome that can help secure a championship. But Johnson thought he had a car that could win because Charlotte and Martinsville are two tracks on which he excels.
"I feel good about Martinsville," Johnson said. "Right now I'm pissed about tonight."
For the most part, Johnson is "Mr. Perfect" when it comes to the Chase, and barring some type of misfortune over the next five weeks, he'll win the championship. But it's nice to see the competitive fire that racers have to have when it comes to winning races. With so much emphasis on the points it would be easy for a driver to coast and collect, but it was obvious after looking into Johnson's eyes on pit road after Saturday night's race that he really wanted to win the race.