When looking at the four drivers in the Championship 4 at Homestead, each of the drivers has just as good of a shot at claiming the title, but upon further inspection, Carl Edwards could have the upper hand in the season finale. That is if the statistics are to be believed.
Not only is Edwards in the midst of his best season since joining Joe Gibbs Racing, he is also having his best season since falling just short of the title as a result of his tie with Tony Stewart in 2011. Through the first 35 races of the season, Edwards has three wins (Bristol, Richmond, and most recently at Texas two weeks ago), nine top-five finishes, 18 top-10 finishes, six poles (career best), 871 laps led, and an average finish of 13.3.
“We are headed to Homestead tied for the points lead and have a chance to win the championship – it doesn’t get any better than this. We’ve had a lot of fun this year and everybody on this team is looking forward to this opportunity. We had a pretty decent test down there at Homestead and at the last two mile-and-a-half tracks we’ve been very fast – both at Kansas and Texas – so I feel like we’re going to be able to do some good there. This kind of weekend is as good as it gets,” said Edwards.
“Everything we do all weekend will count, everything is important and it’s those kinds of situations that make for some fun competition. We’ve got three tough competitors that we’ve got to beat. I know they’re going to bring their ‘A’ game and that really makes it special too. Joey (Logano) going for his first championship, Jimmie (Johnson) going for his seventh and Kyle (Busch) is the defending his champ. If we’re able to triumph over those guys, that’s cause for celebration, so I’m really, really excited.”
In addition to having his best season in recent memory, Edwards and his No. 19 team are heading to one of his best tracks on the circuit. Though he has failed to finish in the top-10 in the last four years, his statistics at Homestead are still the best among the four championship contenders. Edwards has two wins (2008 and 2010), five top-five finishes, seven top-10 finishes, two poles, 568 laps led, an average finish of 9.2, and a driver rating of 109.4 in 12 starts.
When compared to the active driver roster, Edwards’ driver rating is the highest and he is bested by only Kevin Harvick when it comes to his average finish at Homestead. In comparison to the other three championship contenders, Jimmie Johnson has the second highest average finish at 14.1, followed by Joey Logano at 17.7, and Kyle Busch bringing up the rear with an average finish of 21.1.
Along with the statistics pointing in Edwards’ direction, he was able to get some on track time last month during a series-wide test as the representative for Joe Gibbs Racing. With Edwards at the track, Busch wasn’t able to test and Johnson and Logano were also on the sidelines for the test as Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski were testing for their respective organizations instead. The extra on track time could very well give Edwards another leg up on the competition this weekend.
Statistics don’t always tell the whole story, but if the numbers continue to hold true this weekend, Edwards very well may be hoisting the championship trophy by the time the checkered flag flies on Sunday evening.