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Frustration is becoming epidemic in the NASCAR garage

 Carl Edwards (R, with crew chief Bob Osborne C) desperately needs a breakout victory...and so do half a dozen others (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   DOVER, Del.
   Remember Ford versus Chevy?
   Well, Ford's Carl Edwards concedes the obvious – he's getting frustrated.
   Ford has 12 top-notch teams on the stock car tour...and all are still winless.
   In fact Ford has won just once in the past 14 months, Jamie McMurray last fall at Talladega.
   And McMurray now races Chevrolets for Chip Ganassi, and sports a Daytona 500 trophy.
   But Edwards isn't the only man frustrated with not winning.
   So is Jeff Gordon.
   So is Jeff Burton.
   So is Dale Earnhardt Jr.
   So is Tony Stewart.
   So is Greg Biffle.
   The pressure is clearly building, on all of them.
   Darlington was certainly a difficult race for several of these.
   Gordon and Burton probably had the best cars, but pit road problems late cost them.
    Earnhardt hasn't really been in the game for a while now, and Friday here his own frustration showed.
    Stewart, who just learned he's losing a sponsor at the end of the season and thus needs to crank up a game plan, hasn't really challenged much this season, and he's mired 18th in the standings 363 points behind tour leader Kevin Harvick.

   Ground Control to Major Tom: Hey, Smoke, are you sure you packed that 'chute right? Tony Stewart may be grumbling trackside, but here 13,500 feet up, with the U.S. Army's Golden Knights as guardian angels, he's all smile (Photo: U.S. Army Golden Knights)


   Edwards' 15th at Darlington was a disappointment, "probably our biggest struggle of the year."
   And his teammates didn't fare much better.
   Hence "We have had a lot of meetings this week to figure out how to make the car the very best we can coming into here," Edwards says.
   Because this race, Sunday's 400-miler, may be the most crucial race of the season so far for this bunch, because history says Biffle, Matt Kenseth and Edwards have some of the best stats here over the past five years.  
    So when Edwards and his teammates overlay their laps with the Hendrick and Gibbs teams, where are they getting beat?
    Edwards says pinpointing that isn't as easy as it might seem: "Our cars are hard to drive. You go in a corner, and I can't make the car do what I want it to do," Edwards says.
    "That come from the set-up we are running.
      "It isn't as simple as just lowering the track bar or putting some wedge in.
      "At Darlington, for example, the car would be loose, tight, loose, tight … it was all over the place.
      "It makes things very difficult."
     Considering Darlington, post-race Kurt Busch, who finished third, said he too was having trouble making his car turn in the corners. But Jamie McMurray, finishing second, said he's had no such problems in the corners.
     McMurray was Edwards' teammate last season. "If you look at a guy like Jamie, it shows you can go from a situation where you don't like the feel of a car to a spot where you are very fast," Edwards says, with mixed feelings about that: "On one hand it is very frustrating to me... but on the other hand it gives me a big light at the end of the tunnel, that if we can just make the thing drive well, then I can run that well too. 
    "It is about having our car fast enough.
    "It felt good to run well at Richmond (fifth), and if we can run that well every week we will win some races."
    In fact Edwards led two laps at Richmond...the only two laps he's led all season.
    So the Joe Gibbs bunch has caught up with Rick Hendrick's guys....
    "We are not in that footrace right now," Edwards says. "We are trying to catch up and get a handle on things.
    "The amazing thing is that the Hendrick cars are able to do that every year...
    "For the Gibbs guys to put pressure on them is good.
     "We aren't good enough every week to be in that race right now.
     "I am very frustrated; we are all very frustrated.
     "But I have always believed that if you are frustrated about something, there are productive ways to use that."
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  The moment of truth for Tony Stewart. And it's all downhill from here. What these guys do for their sponsors..... (Photo: U.S. Army Golden Knights)

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