Can you smell the fumes from 28 cars yet? That’s right, NASCAR fans, we are two days away from watching our favorite drivers take to the high banks of Daytona for the Budweiser Shootout.
Today is part 34 of my 35-Day series and we feature the bridesmaid of last year’s championship: Cousin Carl Edwards (AKA Smiley or Flipper).
Although it was yesterday's feature (Greg Biffle) that we thought could de-throne Jimmie Johnson as the Chase began last year, it was Edwards who really gave the No. 48 team all they could handle.
Take away two bad finishes in the Chase (or even give him a top-15 or so?) and Edwards would have been hoisting the Cup championship instead of Johnson.
Edwards is the fan (and media) favorite to win the championship this season. In fact, in a recent media poll, Edwards received more than double the first place votes that Johnson did.
The No. 99 team appears to be the only team in the garage that can consistently compete with the No. 48 team every weekend.
With plans to run the entire Nationwide Series again, Edwards is setting himself up for another long year. It doesn’t appear to affect him much, however, as he competed for both championships in 2008 and finished second in each. (Which makes you wonder, if he only ran one series, would he guarantee a championship?)
Here is today’s preview:
Today’s Spotlight: No. 99
Team: Roush Fenway Racing
Driver: Carl Edwards
Driver 2008 Stats: Edwards won more than $8 million and backflipped on the start-finish line nine times in 2008. He finished second in the points battle with 19 top-fives and 27 top-10 finishes. He averaged a finish of ninth throughout the 36-race schedule.
News: The biggest news heading into 2009 is the new sponsor on the No. 99. Well, it’s not new, but Aflac does become the full-time sponsor on Edwards’ Ford, taking over for the departed Office Depot.
Again, Edwards is also part of the news that requires Roush Fenway Racing to drop a team by 2010. No worry here, Edwards fans, Jack Roush will not be letting Flipper out of his sight.
My Prediction for 2009: Edwards is poised to have a great season in 2009. To go along with my other predictions, I expect Edwards to finish anywhere from first through fourth.
Will this team remain in top 35: Yes.
Up Tomorrow: No. 48 Jimmie Johnson
This story also appears on my blog: Sports 101
Reminder: Only 2 days until the Budweiser Shootout!