After finishing second in the 2008 title race to Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards was the presumptive favorite to take home the Sprint Cup Series championship in 2009.
He finished 11th.
In 2011, he tied Tony Stewart for the title — losing out on wins 5 to 1 — and entered 2012 as one of the favorites to win the 2012 Sprint Cup Series championship.
After Sunday, the 13th race of the Sprint Cup season, Edwards is now 12th in the points standings, 96 points out of first place. His last win was at Las Vegas in March... of 2011, a span of 46 races.
Thanks to a pile of top fives (19) and a host of top 10s (26), Edwards' sheer consistency kept him near the front of the field during the entire season in 2011. And while it'd be untrue to say that the consistency has departed Edwards this season — he has eight top 10s in 13 races — it's certainly stepped back a notch. His two top-fives are, well, fives, and the top 10s are a host of eighth-, ninth- and 10th-place finishes. That is a step back that's magnified by the success of his Roush Fenway teammates Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth, who are 1-2 in the points standings and each have a win.
Sunday was shaping up to be another 2012-type of day for Edwards. After qualifying 19th, he hung around the top 15 for the first 164 laps of the race. But then, catastrophe struck, as he lost a right front tire and the car smacked the wall. He finished 26th.
Right now, thanks to the Wild Card, Edwards would not be in the Chase. Just halfway through the regular season, is that a legitimate cause for concern? He's led in two races this season for 207 laps, with 206 of those laps coming at Richmond. He's only five points behind Clint Bowyer for 10th place in the points standings, but Bowyer is the only driver in the vicinity of Edwards in the standings that doesn't also have a win, meaning that at the moment, it's top 10 or bust for both.
Edwards will get to victory lane soon enough (of course, we've been saying that about someone else for a while now, too), but will that soon enough be soon enough and often enough to grab the Wild Card if necessary?
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