After just one top-10 finish in the first round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Carl Edwards and his No. 19 team will head into Charlotte to start the Round of 12 needing to step up their performance in order to be able to move on to the next round of the Chase.
Edwards’ average finish of 11.67 may have been enough to allow him to move into the second round with relative ease, but with four less drivers in the running for the championship, the difficulty and intensity will both be ratcheted up over the next three weeks, making Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte crucial in being able to move on when the round is complete following the race at Talladega Superspeedway on October 23rd.
“We’re really where that we know that first round was – that’s too close. We need to run better. We need to have better finishes and we can. That’s the good part is we have the equipment and the engines, the pit crew, you know? The experience with myself and Dave Rogers (crew chief) both – we’re pretty calm and confident here. We’ve just got to do a little bit better job and it’s pretty neat this week to hang out with Dave and talk about stepping it up a little bit, focusing on what we need to do and now we’ve just got to go do it,” said Edwards.
Though Edwards may have ranked as the last of the five Toyota drivers at the conclusion of the Round of 16 as he sits 10th in points heading into Saturday night’s race, he ranks the highest among his teammates when it comes to racing at Charlotte. Along with being the last Joe Gibbs Racing driver to be able to win at Charlotte (May 2015), he also has the highest average finish among his teammates with an average finish of 10.9 in 23 starts.
In addition to his 2015 Coca-Cola 600 win, Edwards also has seven top-five finishes, 15 top-10 finishes, 137 laps led, and a driver rating of 90.9. With those statistics in his corner, the key to Edwards’ Round of 12 hopes will hinge on if he is able to run as well on Saturday night as he has in the past.
“Somebody’s going to leave here really happy and I hope it’s me. This is – this round I believe is probably the toughest one just with Talladega out there and these mile-and-a-halves. It’s so competitive right now. We saw it with the first round. You’d think that making the 12-out-of-16 would be easy. It’s actually – it was a pretty good battle there, so we hope to get a victory here. We’ve got a pretty good car. The car felt really well – or felt really good – drove really well in the first practice here in race trim, so hopefully we get to practice a little more and try some other things, but, yeah, you need to get a win.”