After a second straight season finishing outside of the top 10 in the Sprint Cup Series in 2013, Carl Edwards is off to a hot start with his first win of the 2014 season at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Bristol.
After five hours of rain delays, Edwards was able to hold off Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Aric Almirola to get his first win of the 2014 season. The Bristol Motor Speedway Twitter account made the announcement that Edwards had won after NASCAR called the race after the caution lights went out with three laps to go.
The Speedway also provided the following Vine of Edwards at victory lane.
With his first win this season, Edwards looks like a serious contender for a Sprint Cup title.
Through his first five races this year, Edwards hasn't finished worse than No. 17, and he's particularly hot right now. He's improved in each one, going from eighth at Phoenix to fifth at Las Vegas and then the win on Sunday at Bristol.
This is Edwards' 22nd career win and his first since last September, when he won at Richmond. After the wild win, Edwards seemed pretty confident that this was going to be his year, according to Nate Ryan from USA Today.
"We're in the Chase and we're going to go out and win this championship," Edwards said. "I can't believe we turned this thing around. We were terrible Saturday (in practice)."
Edwards and his team made a bold decision by not pitting with 75 laps to go, and it paid off in this race. The 34-year-old had this to say about the decision, according to Nick Bromberg from Yahoo! Sports:
I don't know. Aric and those guys were really fast, I don't know if I could have gotten by them. That's a gutsy call with all the tire trouble. Goodyear makes great tires, we didn't have trouble at the end, it just was a bad matchup with the track.
With the win, Edwards is in great shape in the Sprint Cup standings, as he currently sits in third place with just 11 points separating him from Brad Keselowski, who is currently in first. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is currently in second, but he's just one point ahead of Edwards.
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Despite the struggles in 2013 and 2012, Edwards has been a legitimate contender in the Sprint Cup in previous seasons. He's finished second in the Chase twice, nearly taking the Cup in 2008 and 2011. He's had two other top-five finishes as well, coming in third in 2005 and fourth in 2010, and that kind of consistent success is hard in the sport.
Now, with a very strong start to the season, Edwards is near the top of the Sprint Cup standings, and he'll be looking to stay hot as he tries to win his first-ever Cup title.