Edwards enters '11 as he entered '09, which could be a problem

DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. — Quick, who won the Homestead race? Last race of the year, should be easy, right? No, it wasn't Jimmie Johnson. It was none other than Carl Edwards, the guy who'd snapped a brutal 70-race winless streak the week before.

Edwards thus ushered himself out of the dreaded century club, the drivers who can top (or have topped) 100 consecutive winless races this year. Said club includes Jeff Gordon (65 races), Matt Kenseth (70), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (96) and Martin Truex Jr. (131).

So how did Edwards handle a dry spell that ran for most of two full seasons? "It's mentally tough," he said at Media Day, "really tough. The thing that makes it easy is to have a team behind you, someone like (crew chief) Bob Osborne and (team owner) Jack Roush). At least to me, they never wavered. They knew I was doing everything I could."

Edwards paused. "Man, it felt so good to win at Phoenix. And then to win the next week ... before Phoenix, it had been 70 races, and seven days later we win Homestead. I didn't want the season to end."

And at Homestead, while the rest of the NASCAR world's attention was focused on the Jimmie/Denny/Harvick show, Edwards was celebrating, once again busting out the bubbly while, down the road a stretch, Jimmie Johnson reveled in a Cup championship. The same exact scene played out in 2008, where Edwards won three of the season's last four races but Johnson took the Cup. And what happened to Edwards? Seriously, didn't you read the first few paragraphs of this story?

As a result, Edwards is beyond cautiously optimistic this year. "In 2005 we finished the season very strongly and had a poor 2006," he says. "In 2008 we did the same thing with 2009 ... I feel like we can win at Daytona. We’ve got a team that works well together. I feel like we can win at Phoenix. I feel like we can win at Vegas. If I start going down the list of tracks, I’m very excited about it, but I don’t want to get over-confident or jinx myself of get lazy. I want to stay hungry and go out here and try to win."

And hey, if he doesn't, he won't equal his previous streak until late 2012, so there's that.

Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee and The Marbles on Facebook for constant updates from Daytona's Speedweeks.

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