Carl Edwards vs. Denny Hamlin: Who ya' got in 2016 Sprint Cup?
When the flag drops for the Daytona 500 Feb. 21 on FOX, there likely will be seven active, full-time drivers in the field with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships to their names.
Jimmie Johnson has six titles.
Tony Stewart has three.
Kyle and Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Matt Kenseth have one each.
That means there's a lot of hungry drivers out there looking for their first Cup titles. Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt Jr. both readily come to mind, as does Martin Truex Jr.
But the two guys with the best shot at winning their first titles in 2016 might be Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin, who have shockingly similar records. To wit:
Edwards has 25 Cup race victories and 115 top-five finishes.
Hamlin has 26 Cup victories and 105 top fives.
Edwards finished second in points in 2008 and 2011, and third in 2005.
Hamlin finished second in points in 2010 and third in 2006 and 2014.
Edwards has a career average race finish of 13.5.
Hamlin has a career average race finish of 14.5.
Both drivers have won the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, Edwards in 2011 and Hamlin in 2015.
Neither Hamlin nor Edwards has won the Daytona 500 or the Brickyard 400.
Both drivers will have new crew chiefs this year: Mike Wheeler for Hamlin and Dave Rogers for Edwards.
You add it all up, and the two JGR teammates are nearly equal in their respective career achievements, which means favoring one ahead of the other would be awfully tough. And with fellow JGR pilots Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth already with championships to their credit, the biggest title obstacles for Hamlin and Edwards finally earning a Sprint Cup title might be on their own team.