See that man in that car right there?
His name is Carl Edwards, and Sunday night at Texas, he showed the Nascar world why this championship chase is far from over.
Carl Edwards had history on his side coming into Sunday's race because the winner of the Atlanta chase race had gone on to win the following race at Texas since 2005. Edwards wanted to make sure that stat was extended to four years in a row, and he did just that. In a race where Edwards got mired back in traffic after pit stops with 69 laps to go, Edwards and crew decided to go the rest of the way on fuel.
The final decision was made with 13 laps to go after this conversation took place between he and crew chief Bob Osbourne. Edwards: "Can we make it on fuel?" Osbourne: "We're four laps short bud, we're going to come in for two tires and gas at the end." A few laps later Osbourne came back with "We're half a lap short, start saving what you can bud."Turns out Edwards was saving the whole time, because he was pretty sure that Osbourne was uncertain about fuel.
"I was pretty sure that Bob had no idea how close we were, so i started saving after he came on the radio initially. We messed up on that last stop by taking four tires when some of those other guys took two, but Bob still found a way to win us this race. He's awesome."
We all were on the edge of our seats because we all knew what was at risk for Edwards if he didn't make it to the end. His pursuit of Johnson would have come to an abrupt ending. With 13 laps to go Edwards, Jeff Gordon, and Dale Jr, all planned to stay out and try and make it the distance on fuel. Edwards was running half throttle on the straightaways to save as much fuel as he could.
Then with six laps to go, Junior ran out of gas.
That put us on the edge of our seats even more, because we all thought there was no way he's going to make it six more laps, and not run out of gas. On top of the fuel strategy, he had to hope that there wasn't a green-white-checkered finish, because that would have dashed any hopes for a win, and he would have lost most of the points he gained in the day, and left himself with no time to regain them. As soon as he lapped points leader Jimmie Johnson early on in the day, he knew the opportunity was there, and that he had to take advantage.
There was no GWC finish, Edwards didn't run out of gas, in fact he had enough to run a cool down lap, stop the car for his back flip, refire it, and drive it all the way to victory lane under power. For everything that was on the line for Edwards and crew in the closing laps of that race, that was the gamble of the season, and on that night for the 99 team, the gamble paid off.
Edwards cut 77 points off of the once deemed insurmountable lead that Johnson held over Edwards, and is now feeling more confident than ever that he can overtake Johnson and win this championship. He'll need to have a big run at Phoenix where he averages a 14th place finish in his career, and Johnson averages a sixth place. Johnson has won two of the last three races at Phoenix, and is the defensing champion of the race.
The man behind the wheel of the 99 hasn't given up yet, why should we?