Edwards’ evolution: Former 1.5-mile ace confident for Richmond
Throughout his time in the Sprint Cup Series, Carl Edwards has been more known for his success on the 1.5-mile "intermediate" tracks than any other kind of venue.
That perception could be changing, however.
Edwards, who prior to 2013 had just two wins on tracks less than a mile long, has captured his two most recent victories on short tracks.
The first came last September at Richmond International Raceway, where the Roush Fenway Racing driver benefitted from a bizarre turn of events in the final laps to take the lead with three laps remaining and score the win.
Edwards returned to Victory Lane at a short track in March at Bristol Motor Speedway, where he led 78 of 503 laps en route to his first and only triumph to date in the season’s first eight races.
Next up is Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond, where Edwards hopes to make it two victories in a row at the three-quarter-mile Virginia short track.
"I love Richmond because you have to manage the tires and the cars slide around a lot," said Edwards, who is in his 10th season as a full-time Sprint Cup driver. "It is a short-track race but we are still going fast enough so there is a little aero in play and you have to pick your line right. To me, Richmond is just a perfect blend. It is a lot of fun."
After struggling at Richmond early in his career, Edwards has rattled off seven top-10 finishes — including last fall’s win — in eight outings at the popular D-shaped facility.
"For some reason we have hit on some good stuff at Richmond lately, so hopefully it continues," he said.
Despite sitting a strong third in the standings, Edwards isn’t completely satisfied with how his season has gone. Over the eight races, the two-time Sprint Cup championship runner-up has four top-10 finishes, but Edwards has finished no better than 13th in his last three starts.
"I would give us a B," said the driver of the No. 99 Ford. "Maybe a B-plus because of the win. We really capitalized at Bristol and did really well there and that has changed the shape of our whole season, but if you step back and look at what we need to work on it is the bigger tracks. We have to figure that out.
"Everyone is working really hard at that. That is going to be the meat of the Chase. We have got to turn that around."