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After a 15th place points finish, Carl Edwards is coming off of the worst season in his Cup career. It will be interesting to see how he rebounds in 2013.
Roush Fenway Racing's premier driver, Carl Edwards is next.
In 2012, Edwards was the only one of the three RFR drivers to miss the chase, and not win either.
His three top-10 finishes are four worse than his previous of seven in 2009.
The thing that's most alarming here is that Carl ran only one Nationwide race in 2012, his lowest number ever.
Since 2005, his first full-time season, 90 percent of Carl's 19 wins have come with running the Nationwide the week of the win.
So is that what the difference was in 2012?
It could be. Over the course of time, some drivers have benefited from running Nationwide races, and others have not. That will be more prevalent in our next driver.
Carl is one of those drivers who seems to benefit.
Currently, Jack Roush doesn't have any Nationwide races in store for Carl in 2013, but will field two full-time teams with Trevor Bayne and Travis Pastrana.
None for Carl Edwards, so far.
If Jack can manage to put in some races for Edwards, I think it will benefit him.
Carl had two crew chiefs in 2012: Bob Osbourne and Chad Norris. Neither of which will be his crew chief in 2013, as veteran Jimmy Fennig will take over on the pit box.
But not all is bad for him.
He had a similar year like 2012, in 2009, and that was coming off of a season where he won eight races. Yet, he still made the chase, and two of the other Roush cars missed the chase. Even when the organization as a whole was struggling, Carl was still one of the best cars there.
What happened to Edwards in 2012 is really puzzling, and I'm not so sure Jimmy Fennig is the answer.
Why the pressure for Carl? Before the 2012 season, team owner Joe Gibbs, and sponsor Home Depot were in hard pursuit of Edwards. Jack Roush stepped up to the plate and gave Carl around the same deal that Gibbs was giving him, to convince Carl to stay.
Matt Kenseth was in the same situation this silly season. Joe Gibbs stepped up, but Jack Roush didn't. Matt has a championship, and two Daytona 500s. He also made the chase this season, and won three races. So Matt's track record is better than Carl's, yet Carl was the one who got the big deal from Roush.
Carl also needs to prove that Jack Roush made the right move in stepping up to the plate and giving Carl the big deal over Matt Kenseth.
Another source of pressure is rookie driver and teammate Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Unless Stenhouse wins two or more races, I doubt highly he'll make the chase in his rookie season. So if Carl misses it again, that leaves Roush with only one hope, Greg Biffle. Only having one car in the chase for Roush Fenway will leave people questioning if they still are a powerhouse team in this sport. So, Carl needs to step up.
But, another season like 2012, and Jack could be kicking himself for years to come.
Prediction: 2013 will be a much better year for Carl. The engineers from the No. 17 team have come over with Fennig. The team that won three races will be with Carl in 2013. I'm expecting at least two wins from Carl with him making the chase and finishing around fifth. He needs to, because I'm not so sure Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. will make the chase in his rookie season.