Remember when Carl Edwards came along, how he looked like the next big thing? He won four times in his first full season of 2005 and ended up finishing in a tie for second in points with Roush teammate Greg Biffle.
2006 was equivalent to a sophomore slump, but it wasn't something many paid attention to, especially when he won three times in 2007 and fought for the championship in 2008 before finishing second to Jimmie Johnson, despite winning nine times.
However, since then we haven't really seen him as a true championship threat.
He went winless in 2009 and finished 11th in points. In 2010, he won twice and finished fourth in points and was consistent enough in 2011 to tie Tony Stewart in the standings at the end of the season, despite Stewart winning the title with five wins to Edwards' one.
But it just seems like Edwards can't get the job done. This is a shame when you consider the fact that Edwards is literally the best driver to never win a championship in this day and age. Granted, all good drivers are bound to have those seasons where nothing goes right (unless you're Jimmie Johnson), like in 2012 where Edwards went winless and finished a sickening 15th in points.
But Edwards is a championship-caliber driver. One thing that would go a long way in proving that is if he'd start winning more and breaking less. He has already won twice this season and lingered in the top five in points for the majority of the regular season.
But ever since breaking at Dover, he has not had the best of luck. He's only managed two top-10s, and on Sunday at Texas, a promising run went south when the engine in his pole-winning mount blew up and left him 37th at the end of the day.
Edwards is as versatile a driver as anyone else in the garage, from Johnson to Stewart. He can run well at Daytona, as well as Martinsville. He's managed to minimize the DNFs this year, matching his 2012 number of only two DNFs.
He's great about keeping his equipment in one piece. It's just that somehow, someway, his Jimmy Fennig-led crew hasn't made their Roush Fenway Ford as competitive as it was in 2008, when Bob Osborne led the No. 99 to a nine-win season.
Fennig has done well with bringing the No. 99 team back from their disastrous 2012 season, so there isn't any reason to worry about the future for these guys. Fennig has won championships before, and he can do it again. 2014 is just as good a chance for them as any other season. But it's all a matter of making Edwards a competitor on a week-by-week basis. He's got to be a contender for wins as well as titles.
He's a consistent finisher, no doubt. But he has the capability to have a psychological advantage over the competition, much like Johnson and his No. 48 crew does now. He's got the talent that Johnson has, if not more, so it is up to his team to put him in a position where he is a consistent threat for the win, instead of just pulling off top-fives and top-10s.
If they could do that, then Edwards may finally overtake Johnson for a championship that is long overdue.
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