Carl Edwards drove the wheels off his car, sawing at the wheel all day, and it placed the 99 team in victory lane at day's end. One problem with that. Jimmie Johnson drove up through the pack after a late pit stop for tires, and finished right behind Edwards in second place.
Edwards knew Johnson had problems on pit road, and admitted to looking at the scoring tower and seeing the 48 around the top 15 as the laps were winding down, and imagined all the points he would gain.
Johnson and the 48 team do, what seemingly no other team has done since the inception of the chase format. They can turn marginal days with a mediocre car, into a great finish, and somehow manage to increase their stranglehold on their third consecutive championship.
"Man, you've been rainin on my parade all day long, but Jimmie's awesome and that team has been very hard to beat" said Edwards after ESPN reporter Dave Burns informed him that Johnson claimed the runner up position. That leaves Johnson with over a 180 point lead, heading to Texas, the eighth of 10 chase races. The largest lead ever that has been overcome with three races to go is less than 50 points. The field has their work cut out for them.
One of the few bright spots for Edwards is that the winner of the Atlanta chase race has gone on to win at Texas the last three seasons, including 2005 when Edwards did it. Edwards has been in top form on the mile and a half tracks this season, and has had by far the class of the field in many of the races run on these tracks.
If not for parts failures at Atlanta and Charlotte, Edwards could be the series leader in wins because his cars we're certainly contending when they failed. Nonetheless, Edwards has had a magnificent season from start to finish. But unless the 48 has major problems, he will yet again be the talk to the town in New York, and sitting at the head table at the Waldorf for the banquet.