NASCAR

New crew chief sparks Edwards' rally

Jimmy Fennig (Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports)
Jimmy Fennig (right) talks with Carl Edwards (left) earlier this season.
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Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds has more than 30 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, Daytona 500-winning crew chief and broadcaster. He earned 23 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, including two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, as well as a pair of non-points victories in the annual all-star race. Follow him on Twitter.

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For all the success he has enjoyed in the past — and only two years ago a tiebreaker kept him from being our 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion — who would have thought going into last Sunday’s race that we would be talking about Carl Edwards and his 70-race winless streak?

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NASCAR IN PHOENIX

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Edwards is another example of what I always tell you — that Daytona is never a clear indicator of a driver or team’s capabilities. This No. 99 team lost five race cars during the 2013 Daytona 500 Speedweeks plus at the Daytona test in January.

Sunday when the race was over it was Edwards and his team celebrating in Victory Lane. So they went from the lowest of lows in Daytona, to the highest of highs a week later in Phoenix. To me it’s a pretty unbelievable story.

I will admit that I, both privately and publically, questioned car owner Jack Roush’s decision to move veteran crew chief Jimmy Fennig away from Rookie of the Year candidate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. I just thought the combination of veteran crew chief paired with rookie driver would have been perfect.

With all that said, we all know Jack Roush is called the Cat in the Hat for a reason and it’s because he is pretty darn smart. We also know that he had to do something pretty substantial to get Carl and that No. 99 pointed back in the right direction.

When you saw Carl’s reaction after the race, you could tell he meant it when he said “this is the coolest win of them all.” This coming from a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver who already had 19 wins under his belt before last Sunday. For all the success he enjoyed in 2011, Carl went through the same amount of disappointment in 2012.

So Sunday was a huge relief for him, Jack Roush, their sponsors and naturally the whole team.

You also heard Edwards talk about how excited he was and how Jimmy Fennig was exactly what he and that race team needed.

So I say kudos to Jack Roush for having the foresight to move him over there and for putting Jimmy with Carl.

Tagged: Carl Edwards

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