2013 Stats: Points Finish 13th, 2 Poles, 2 Wins, 9 Top Fives, 16 Top Tens, Average Running Position 12.8, Average Finish 13.6, Laps Led 524, Driver Rating 92.52
Strengths- Edwards is a strong performer at intermediate tracks, short flat tracks and road courses. Another strength is that he’s typically a consistent performer. Last season he was the points leader at the time of the Chase cutoff because of his consistency.
Weaknesses- In 2013 Roush Fenway Racing was behind “speed wise” on the track. NASCAR is a cyclical sport so I think they will find whatever they were missing.
Intermediate Track Grade- A-, Intermediate tracks are Carl Edwards best track type from a historical perspective. In 2013 he had a 13.7 average finish and had a result in the top ten nearly 50% percent of the time. His 11.4 average running position ranked as the 7th best in the series in 2013. That’s more reflective than his average finish because it seems like last season whenever he had a promising run going something happened to him. In 2014 I expect Edwards to perform better on this track type. The reason for that is because I expect Roush Fenway Racing to be more competitive. Performance wise they were behind the competition in the Gen 6 car. When the COT was first introduced they were behind technologically as a company also.
Flat Track Grade- A-, Last season on the big flat tracks Edwards had a 9.7 average running position and a 14.0 average finish. His primary strength at these venues in 2013 was qualifying. In the three races on the big flat tracks he had 2.7 average starting position. Recently at Pocono Edwards has been a 7th through 11th place driver. In four out of the last five races he had a result within that range. At Indy Edwards has a 13.2 average finish and last season he finished 13th.
Last season on shorter flat tracks Edwards was arguably the strongest performer in the series. He won the spring race at Phoenix and would’ve won the fall race if he had a few more drops of gas. In the combined Phoenix races he had a 7.5 average running position and led 158 laps. At New Hampshire last season he had results of 8th and 9th.
Short Track Grade- B+, Richmond is Carl Edwards best short track. He’s been very strong there recently and in September he drove the 99 car to victory lane. In the spring race last season he finished 6th. Since 2010 at Richmond he’s only finished outside the top ten once and has a series best 7.0 average finish.
From a career perspective Bristol is arguably his best short track. He’s won there twice and was competitive this summer. In August he started in 3rd, led 119 laps but had engine problems while he was leading. In the spring Bristol race he was involved in an early accident and was mediocre for the rest of the afternoon. In the last four Bristol races his average finish is 29.5.
At Martinsville Edwards has moderate fantasy value. Since fall 2007 his 12.9 average finish ranks as the 8th best in the series. His likely finish range is between 8th and 15th.
Restrictor Plate Track Grade- B, Excluding the spring Talladega race Edwards had a rough season on these venues in 2013. In the season opening Daytona 500 he went through about 5 cars that week and finished 33rd. In the July Daytona race he was a victim of the carnage on the last lap. In the eleven Daytona races prior to that event he had a 10.5 average finish and had a result in the top ten 73% percent of the time.
In the spring Talladega race Edwards was very strong. He had a top three car (him, Johnson and Kenseth) and finished 3rd. In that race he was leading on the last lap until teammates David Ragan and David Gilliland worked together and passed him. In the fall Talladega race he finished 17th. Prior to last season Edwards only had one top ten at Talladega since 2006.
Road Course Track Grade- A, Carl Edwards is an accomplished road course racer and it’s just a matter of time until he gets his first win on this track type. Last season on these tracks he scored the 2nd most points, had the 2nd best average finish and the 5th best average running position.
Between the two road courses I like Carl Edwards more at Watkins Glen. It fits his driving style more and last season he finished 4th. In nine races at the Glen he has an 8.8 average finish. If you pick him don’t expect him to lead a lot of laps. In his combined starts he’s lead a grand total of 1 lap.
At Sonoma last season he finished 3rd. That marked his 4th top ten in nine starts. In 2011 he also finished 3rd.