By Doug Halberstadt
Carl Edwards is the hottest thing in the world of auto racing right now. He closed out the 2010 season by winning the final two races. Three months later, he opened the 2011season by finishing in the runner-up spot at the Daytona 500. He followed that up by winning the pole position for the next race. An early race encounter with the fence dropped him to a very disappointing 28th-place finish in Phoenix.
One week later, he drove his way back to the winner’s circle at the Kobalt Tools 400. That’s three wins in the last five NASCAR Sprint Cup races. He’s clearly positioned himself to present Jimmie Johnson with a real challenge in his pursuit of a sixth straight series championship.
“This means a lot, coming off Phoenix,” said Edwards, who led the final 23 laps. “After last weekend, I had no clue—I just didn’t know how things were going to go from there. You don’t get a good racecar like that very often, but I had another one [Sunday].”
Edwards took the lead from runner-up Tony Stewart during a cycle of pit stops late in the race. Stewart wound up finishing second ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya.
Marcos Ambrose finished fourth, and Ryan Newman came home fifth, while Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch and Brian Vickers rounded out the top 10.
The series takes this week off and will resume March 20 at Bristol. Last year, Johnson picked up his third victory of the young 2010 season at Bristol. Edwards finished sixth in the spring 2010 Bristol race.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the March 9-15, 2011, issue