Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Ford, was runner-up for the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup title, but in 2012 he is odd man out against his teammates in the Chase. His 2013 season may be more of the same.
The Roush Fenway Racing driver held his cards close to his vest when he was negotiating for a contract in 2011. Many thought he would be the driver to make the move to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2012.
In an odd turn of events, Edwards re-signed with RFR and his teammate, Matt Kenseth, announced the surprise move to JGR in 2013 after a lengthy stay with Jack Roush.
The 2011 season saw Edwards in Victory Lane one time, but he had 19 top-five finishes and an average finish of 9.3.
That one win was his last and that was the third race of the 2011 season at Las Vegas.
Edwards has finished in the top five three times this year and every time was a fifth place finish. His average starting position is 15.0 and he has finished with an average 15.7.
The personable driver with the toothy grin has had to watch his teammates Kenseth and Greg Biffle at the top of the point standings during the season and in the Chase field.
Edwards has always been a media darling, and he never met a camera he didn't like. As the 2012 season comes to a close, he is seldom interviewed and seems to be a blip in the race chatter on TV.
Biffle and his crew chief Matt Puccia seem to have a solid program with chemistry that has taken them to two wins, 11 top-five and 18 top-10 finishes.
Edwards saw his crew chief Bob Osborne step away for undisclosed health reasons, and Chad Norris took over the duties for the No. 99 team. Osborne remains in the background for support.
Now the 2013 season will present a new challenge for Edwards. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will pilot the No. 17 Cup car formerly driven by Kenseth.
Young Stenhouse has won a Nationwide series title and may win another this year for Roush Fenway Racing.
There is little doubt that even though Stenhouse will be a rookie in his first full-time run with NASCAR's elite series, he is a future superstar of the sport.
In an article by Jay Hart at Yahoo Sports, Edwards stated, "Ricky says he's going to lean on us a little bit. I hope he means that figuratively, because he's a hard racer."
The No. 99 driver really hasn't had exceptional bad luck this season. He was involved in a hard accident at Talladega and lost an engine at Atlanta, but he has completed 98.4 percent of his laps this year.
One has to wonder if Roush wouldn't have been better off letting Edwards go to JGR. His team's performance has just been down even though he is 14th in the standings heading to Texas.
Edwards could be a spoiler at Texas where he has run well, and 17 of his 19 career wins have come on intermediate tracks.
If "Cousin Carl" doesn't eke out a win in the next three races to gain some headwind going into next season, there is a good chance he might once again find himself odd man out at RFR.
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