Driving the #99 Ford Fusion for Roush Fenway racing, Carl Edwards clocked up his second victory of the season by winning Sunday’s Toyota-SaveMart 350. This was also his first win at Sonoma Raceway, a 2.52-mile road course featuring 12 turns and up to 160 feet of elevation change. With 509 points, and two wins, Edwards is a serious contender for the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. The current top ten in the Sprint Cup standings are Jeff Gordon (580 points), Jimmie Johnson (560 points), Dale Earnhardt Jr (555 points), Matt Kenseth (515 points), Brad Keselowski (512 points), Carl Edwards (509 points), Joey Logano (483 points), Ryan Newman (473 points), Kevin Harvick (472 points) and Kyle Larson (470 points).
Born in Columbia, Missouri on August 15, 1979, Carl Edwards was brought to the attention of Jack Roush when he was driving for MB Motorsports in the 2002 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. He also drove for Bost Motorsport in a Busch Series race that year. In 2003, Edwards started driving the Superchips-sponsored #99 Ford F-150 in the Truck Series for Roush. He won Rookie-of-the-Year in 2003, won three races, and finished 8th in the points standing. In 2004 he won three more races, including the season-opener – Florida Dodge Dealers 250 – and in August that year made his NEXTEL Cup Series debut in the Roush Racing #99 Ford Taurus.
On the weekend of March 19/20, 2005, Edwards won both the Busch series Aaron’s 312 and NEXTEL Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, becoming the first driver to win both Busch and NEXTEL events on the same weekend at this particular venue. In June 2005, Edwards won the NEXTEL Pocono 500 and had intended to compete at the Busch Series race at the Nashville Superspeedway, but due to weather-related rescheduling was unable to do so which lost him valuable points in the standings. Nevertheless, he finished the season third in points.
Edwards failed to win any races in 2006, but he claimed his first NASCAR Busch Series Championship in 2007, and finished second to Jimmie Johnson in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. 2009 was not a good year for Edwards in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, but he finished the NASCAR Nationwide Series in second place, having scored five wins. After a slow start to 2010, Edwards broke the track record at Phoenix International Raceway on November 12 for the fastest qualifying lap, and went on to win the Kobalt Tools 500 two days later. Edwards won eight races that season, the most in his career at that point. In 2012 Edwards stopped competing in the Nationwide Series in order to concentrate on the Sprint Cup, but failed to qualify for the Chase. In the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup, Edwards finished in 13th place.
2014 has been an exciting season for Edwards. He won the 2014 Food City 500, leading for the last 78 laps of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Race. Starting on the pole for the All-Star Race, Edwards came in second to Jamie McMurray who passed him to hold the lead for the final eight laps of the race. In addition to being his second win of the 2014 season and his first road win, Edwards’ victory at the 2014 Toyota Save-Mart 350 was his 23rd NASCAR Sprint Cup career win.
Six-time Sprint Cup Series champion, Jimmie Johnson, notched up his first win of the 2014 season in the longest race of the series on Sunday. Starting from the pole position in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Johnson led 164 laps of the 400 lap race, holding the lead for the final nine laps of the race, crossing the finish-line 1.273 seconds ahead of Kevin Harvick. Matt Kenseth took third place, followed by Carl Edwards and Jamie McMurray in fourth and fifth positions.
Despite back pain that saw him skip Saturday’s final practice, Jeff Gordon finished in seventh place, maintaining his position in the lead with 432 points – no easy feat considering the length of the race. With 421 points, Matt Kenseth is second in the standings, followed by Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards, both with 408 points.
Among fans, there are both critics and proponents of the length of the Coca-Cola 600, but most drivers seem to agree that it is a good thing that it is the only event of its kind. It’s very likely that this one-of-a-kind status adds to the attraction of a race that starts in the bright light of the sun, and ends under lights after sunset. The race is generally just over four hours long, during which time the track undergoes a number of changes as the blistering daytime temperatures drop dramatically after sunset, presenting drivers with challenges that require constant and consistent concentration.
Kurt Busch‘s bid to compete in the Indianapolis 500 (where he finished in sixth place)and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day ended on a disappointing note as his car’s engine blew with 129 laps to go at Charlotte. Nonetheless, Busch noted that his experience of driving a stock car right after driving an Indy car was something he would never forget.