NASCAR at Richmond: Carl Edwards Didn't Think Momentum Existed Until He Had It
Everyone keeps talking about the "Big Mo" heading into the Chase. Drivers, crews, media and fans all keep saying "momentum is key to winning the Chase."
If that is the case, Roush-Fenway driver Carl Edwards isn't thinking about it. At least, he's trying not to.
But, considering how the No. 99 team has run the last couple of months, it is hard to dispute that this team has momentum on their side. Yet, despite all the success, Edwards brushed off the idea of momentum at Richmond and heading into the Chase.
"I used to just laugh at people who talked about momentum. I thought there's no such thing as momentum. You are what you have at the race track," Edwards said.
"But lately, we've been kinda building this momentum. It's been working, and I've enjoyed it."
How can he not. Edwards has scored the most points among any driver in the last eight races. Despite not having any wins, it's hard to not consider how well the No. 99 team has been running.
Since the Coke Zero 400, Edwards has only one finish outside the top-10. He has finished runner-up twice at tracks where he is normally very strong, and has kept out of controversy the entire time.
Edwards and his team discussed the Chase heading into Richmond, and felt very strongly about how they would run each week.
"When we sit down and looked at the schedule and look at the Chase races, and our plan of approach in each of those races, we feel like we have a car that can win every single one of those races," Edwards said.
"That's a far cry from where we were a few months ago. If that's momentum, I'm enjoying it and I'm all for it. Hopefully we can keep riding it."
It's not just the performance on the track that Edwards has noticed since getting momentum. He has been noticing things in the garage from his crew and his teammates as well. Communication between teams, more "spring in their step" and a more laid back demeanor are things Edwards noticed from the No. 99 team.
Such small things proved to be huge for Edwards on Friday at Richmond. In the Happy Hour practice, Edwards was the fastest car on the track. He was nearly a full tenth of a second faster than Paul Menard.
That run came late in the practice, and would prove huge for him. With qualifying occurring in the late afternoon, Edwards was liking his late draw.
He liked it even more following his lap as he put the No. 99 Ford on the pole position with a lap of 21.13 seconds, four-tenths faster than his Happy Hour time.
Even Edwards was surprised at his lap after seeing Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second, put up a great lap very early.
"That lap that he [Montoya] ran, I didn't think we'd be anywhere close to that," Edwards said after qualifying. "After the lap was over, I thought we ran a 40 or something.
"Pretty amazing job my guys did with the car."
No one can deny that momentum is on the side of Edwards heading into Richmond, and into the Chase next week.
The question is, can Edwards keep the momentum he's had leading to this point?
It is hard to say, but considering this team already has a game plan in place each week during the Chase, don't bet against them. But, Edwards probably won't think much of momentum both heading into and during the Chase.
In fact, Edwards believes this year's Chase for the Cup will be more about mistakes rather than momentum.
"I do believe the gap between teams has narrowed up...I believe more than ever that this championship will be defined by bad days," Edwards said. "I think there will be a number of teams that run very well, and the difference between them and the rest of the teams are going to be the bad days.
"It might not be how many races you win or how well you run."
Edwards may not have thought the term "momentum" existed in NASCAR, but now that he has it, the idea is starting to become a reality.
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