With all the question marks out there as we are nearing the midway point of the 2012 season, everyone seems to be concerned about how many races, or how many years, it has been since Dale Earnhardt Jr. has won a race, and how much Bad Luck Jeff Gordon has had to endure this season, but no one is talking about the Duck.
It’s been over a year since Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Roush Fenway Ford has done a back flip on his way to Victory Lane. In fact, his last points win came on March 6th, 2011 at Las Vegas. He hasn’t had enough bad luck this season to catch our attention, and on the other side of the coin, not much good luck either.
After his historic run to the Sprint Cup Title last year where he lost out to a hard charging Tony Stewart at Homestead, I was expecting to see him hit the ground running in 2012. With only one win in 2011, the statistic that kept Carl Edwards in the Title Hunt last year was his exorbitant amount of Top 5 and Top 10 finishes. The statistic that was his eventual downfall was that lone win at Las Vegas. Check this out, in 2011, Carl had 19 top 5′s and 26 Top 10′s and sit on the pole four times.
After sitting on the pole at the season opening Daytona 500, and finishing 8th, his season seems to be in a downfall that resembles a statistical chart of my 401k portfolio. The downfall continued Sunday at Dover when he blew a tire in turn 2, and slammed into the wall on lap 164. It took 80 laps to get his Aflac Ford repaired and back on the track for a 26th place finish.
Carl’s trouble at Dover dropped him to 12th in points, 96 behind leader Greg Biffle and out of the top 10, and with his inability to win a race, puts him in danger of missing the chase all together. Edwards is following an unfortunate pattern suffered by championship runner-ups. The season after the runner-up campaign has often trended downward.
In 2011, Denny Hamlin finished ninth after his runner-up finish in 2010. Prior to that, Mark Martin went from second to 13th; Edwards, himself, went from second in 2008 to 11th in 2009; Jeff Gordon went from second in 2007 to seventh in 2008.
Not since Matt Kenseth in 2006-07 has a championship runner-up followed up with a points finish in the top five.
The good news for the next couple of weekends is, Carl Edwards has shown some success at The Tricky Triangle which is Pocono. With 14 starts on this layout, he has two wins including one in his first visit in June of 2005. He also has two wins in 15 starts at Mishigan International Speedway which is on the schedule next weekend. The old saying “better make hay while the sun shines” will apply to Carl as after Michigan, as the circuit hits some venues where he has never had success, such as the road courses at Sonoma and Watkins Glen, or Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The only driver in the Top 10 I think is questionable would be Clint Boyer. With Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman sitting just outside the Top 10 in the Wild Card positions, both with a win, I don’t think Carl will make the chase without a couple of wins. There just isn’t enough wiggle room, and I don’t see any of the other top 10 drivers falling that far.
I think with the current standings, the Duck is in trouble. Unless there is a drastic turn around very soon, Carl Edwards and the Aflac Duck will be spending the final 10 races preparing for 2013.
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