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What the heck is wrong with Carl Edwards? Frustrations may be boiling over

What the heck is wrong with Carl Edwards? Frustrations may be boiling over

Carl Edwards: last year within a hair of the championship, but this year will he even make the playoffs?


    By Mike Mulhern

   Carl Edwards' odd season continues...and the murmurs among rivals in the garage about Edwards' lack of success so far are getting louder.
    There is the growing threat that Edwards -- who had the best finishing average in 2011 and nearly won the championship -- this fall may not even make the playoffs.
   While his teammates Kenseth and Biffle were at the head of the pack, Edwards much of Saturday night mired in the back.
   Getting caught up in one of the pit road problems was costly, Edwards said. "We had to drive through and start at the back; I just didn't get back to the front again on that run. That's what set us back."
   Edwards says drivers up front have a decided edge at Daytona: "Frustrating describes this whole type of event.  It's very difficult. 
    "It's great when you're out front, but any other spot, you're just trying hard not to wreck... and not to try too hard and ruin your day."
   How fans, at the track or on the couch in front of the TV, might like this type of racing? Maybe this week's TV ratings will give some idea.


  Carl Edwards, a fan and media favorite, dives into the crowd at Daytona (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    For Edwards it has been a very frustrating first half.
    He had the best overall finishing average last season (albeit winning only once). But this season he's struggled....and that's been in curious contrast to the success teammates Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle have had.
   What do Kenseth and Biffle have going for them that Edwards and crew chief Bob Osborne don't?
   Increasing that is becoming a serious question.
   And Edwards knows it.
   "You guys saw how frustrated I was at Kentucky, and how frustrated our whole team was...and the week before -- running about 20th the last two weeks from little mistakes that are not really the norm for us
   "We've got to do better.  We know that."
    And this stretch, June through August, is sponsorship season, making good runs, in front of potential sponsors, like UPS last week at Kentucky, and like Subway at Daytona, is key for Edwards.


   Carl Edwards (R) listening to crew chief Bob Osborne. But are they on the same wave length? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    The pressure is showing. How will they react? 
    "We had a hastily-organized meeting after the Kentucky race, and basically it boils down to this:  our luck has been so bad this year that we can't make any other mistakes. 
     "We all understand that.  Bob and I have talked about it.  We have to go the extra mile to make sure all of our bases are covered, because there's just no room for any more error.  We have to be on it. 
    "This stretch to us is almost as if we're going to race for the championship.  We've got to remember we're not in that chase right now; we're outside of it.  We've got to go get it."
   Edwards -- remember he hasn't won a tour event since March 2011 -- would likely have to win at least two of the next eight races in order to make the playoffs on a 'wild card.' That doesn't seem likely, the way things are going.


  The closing stretch at Daytona Saturday night: Jack Roush men Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle on the inside, Rick Hendrick men Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne on the outside. And who's missing from this picture? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   So can he crack the top-10 and make the playoffs that way?
   "That's realistic," Edwards insists.  "That window is closing, though. 
    "If we don't make up some ground here in the next three or four weeks, it becomes a different story. 
    "The best way we can do it is win races.
    "But I think between now and Richmond (the September playoff cut) we could make up 50 or 60 points. We know how to do that.  We've had runs where we just knocked off five or six or eight top-fives in a row."
   Well, that might be wishful thinking. Last season Edwards twice finished top-five three weeks in a row. Four weeks in a row might be a stretch this season.
     Which means he -- like Jeff Gordon -- appears down to going-for-broke by winning races.


   Can Matt Kenseth (R) provide some insight? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    Is it a good sign or bad sign that Edwards is showing such frustration?
    After the Kentucky race he really vented:  "I thought it was important to let that frustration out... because we're all so frustrated. 
     "I thought it was more honest to get out of the car and say 'Hey, look: I'm mad.  I'm not happy with this.'
     "It had been building up for a couple of weeks in our whole team.  Bob and I were both upset, and we were honest with each other about what we were upset at. 
    "I was honest with the engineers and Jack (Roush) and everyone.  I thought that was really important.
     "Although it was not a rosy conversation, I thought we needed to do that. We needed to be really honest with one another, and I was glad it went the way it went."
    But when will it finally start creating results out on the track?



    Well, at least Carl Edwards finished the Coke 400 Saturday...unlike Jimmie Johnson here (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


The Inconsistency Of Carl Edwards

Edwards' mediocre season is in keeping with his Cup career - his breakthrough year was 2005 when he won four times; he went winless in 2006. He won 12 times the 2007-8 seasons highlighted by 2008's 9-win rampage, then went winless in 2009. He's won three races since then but has largely fallen off the map from his 2008 performance; he did have 19 top fives last year but that's history now. Right now he looks to be in a downward trend.

Only a bit more time and you will see Cousin

Only a bit more time and you will see Cousin Carls emotions really BOIL OVER and it will make a Kurt Bush tantrum look mild.

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