If Edwards is holding back as some say, then look out
Joe Mezner, NASCAR.com
Kyle Busch said he thought Carl Edwards was holding back during Sunday's running of the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, and Edwards didn't deny it.
That may be great news for Edwards and the resurgent folks at Roush Fenway Racing, but it appears to be bad news for everyone else chasing them this Sprint Cup season. Holding back or not, Edwards won the Samsung 500 going away.
And even though the current Sprint Cup point standings show him merely in 10th place, that is a mirage. On the whole, no one has been better this season.
Edwards' win Sunday was his series-high third of the season. No one else has won more than once. Had it not been for a 100-point penalty assessed after the second of Edwards' wins -- at Las Vegas, where a loose oil-tank lid was ruled by NASCAR officials to have illegally aided his cause -- Edwards would rank fourth in the standings to back up that claim.
Edwards, in fact, thinks he should have at least one more win, citing engine problems while leading at Atlanta that turned what he figured was going to be another great day into a lousy 42nd-place finish. That fiasco almost contributed to what would have been an impatient and imprudent move heading into Sunday's race.
It seems interim crew chief Chris Andrews (Bob Osborne, Edwards' usual crew chief, is serving a six-week suspension for the oil-tank lid violation) came to Edwards Sunday morning and mentioned that there might be a small problem with the engine in their No. 99 Ford. They had noticed it during practice on Saturday, even as Edwards was flying around faster than everyone else, as usual.
Andrews was just trying to be honest, but it was the last thing Edwards wanted to hear.
"Every time we've blown -- the last three engines that we've had that failed [going back to last year] -- I felt like it cost us three wins," Edwards said. "So I'm hypersensitive to anything with the engine. They have been nice enough to tell me when anything is going on because I've freaked out so much on them."
Of course, that didn't prevent him from freaking out anyway.
Honesty, in this case, almost wasn't the best policy. Edwards' immediate reaction was to insist that Andrews replace the engine. That would have sent Edwards to the back of the field for the start of Sunday's event, and obviously, in retrospect, would have put a perfectly fine car out to premature pasture.
Andrews, much to Edwards' later appreciation, talked some sense into his driver.
"They talked me off the emotional ledge, was how one of the guys put it," Edwards said. "It's the truth. We had a meeting and [Andrews] told me, 'Hey, you have to trust me and trust us.' That's what we did and it worked out."
Edwards ended up leading the race on three different occasions for a total of 123 laps, nearly twice as many as anyone else. Kyle Busch, who led 50 laps himself and went on to finish third behind Edwards and second-place finisher Jimmie Johnson, later surmised that Edwards probably could have led all 339.