Desert rain was the unlikely source of Carl Edwards’ 2015 Chase demise
The 2015 Sprint Cup season was in many ways a new beginning for Carl Edwards, who moved to Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing after spending the first decade of his Cup career in Roush Fenway Racing Fords.
After getting off to a surprisingly slow start with the powerhouse JGR organization, Edwards began to turn the corner with a huge win on Memorial Day weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway where he not only captured one of NASCAR’s crown-jewel races but also punched his ticket to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
With his No. 19 JGR Toyota seemingly getting faster as the season wore on, Edwards and his Darian Grubb-led team notched a second win with the running of the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Labor Day weekend.
Although Edwards never returned to Victory Lane, the first-year JGR driver advanced through the opening two rounds of the Chase with relative ease and had a shot to earn a spot among the Championship 4 entering the final race of the Eliminator Round at Phoenix International Raceway.
But when the race was called early due to persistent showers at the typically dry 1-mile facility located in the Arizona desert, Edwards was fifth among the eight remaining title contenders — one spot shy of the final slot among the four who advanced to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the next weekend’s winner-take-all championship finale.
Edwards maintained his position in South Florida to come home fifth in the final standings as JGR teammate Kyle Busch delivered the organization’s fourth title in NASCAR’s top series.
Despite showing steady improvements over the course of the season and finishing second in points among the four JGR drivers, Edwards learned after the season that he will have a new crew chief in 2016 when veteran pit boss Dave Rogers moves over from teammate Denny Hamlin’s team to replace Grubb.