Edwards not giving up on title hopes

Edwards not giving up on title hopes

With only three races to go in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Carl Edwards is keeping a positive outlook on his chances for his first series title. Despite back flipping his way to victory lane at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday, the Roush Fenway ...

With only three races to go in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Carl Edwards is keeping a positive outlook on his chances for his first series title. Despite back flipping his way to victory lane at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday, the Roush Fenway Racing driver only gained 15 points on championship leader Jimmie Johnson.

Carl Edwards.
Photo by Action Sports Photography.

What looked to be a disastrous race for the two-time and defending series champion turned into a great points day when Johnson railed from a lap behind to finish second. The Hendrick Motorsports ace now holds a 183-point lead over Edwards, a gap that's almost too far to reach, but not completely impossible.

"At this point it's pretty much all or nothing," Edwards said during Tuesday's NASCAR teleconference. "We just go out to win. If we can catch Jimmie on a day where he has some trouble or something happens, we have to be there getting the most amount of points we can so that we can capitalize on that."

Edward's seventh victory of the season pulled him back into second in the standings, and that momentum is certainly riding with the Columbia, Missouri-native. But in order to claim the championship at Homestead-Miami next month, he'll be hoping bad luck to come Johnson's way, something the No. 48 team has yet to face in the Chase.

Johnson has not finished lower than ninth in the seven Chase races so far, scoring two victories and five top-fives. While Edwards has a similar record, he also has a 29th place finish at Talladega and 33rd at Lowe's Motor Speedway to his credit. There are no mulligans in racing, but Edwards sure would have liked to get some breaks.

"If Talladega had gone a little differently and we would not have had [wreaked, and if at] Lowe's Motor Speedway our ignition boxes didn't fail, I felt we had a race winning car that night. And on the last lap of Atlanta, if Denny [Hamlin] would have just clipped Jimmie in the left rear, I think we'd be either tied or I'd have a slight lead on Jimmie with just those two total chance things being out of it."

Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards.
Photo by Action Sports Photography.

Johnson's consistency could be rewarded as early as this Sunday's race at Texas Motor Speedway, although a long shot at best. Either way, the Hendrick Motorsports driver could lock up the title before the season finale at Homestead, something that's never happened since the introduction of the Chase format.

"Our points margin is bigger than it's been yet," Johnson said. "So that's a step in the right direction. But until I have that trophy in my mind, I can't loosen up on things. I just got to keep my head down and keep working for this."

If Johnson does get it done, he will become only the second driver in history to win three consecutive Sprint Cup titles, joining Cale Yarborough's three-peat from 1976-78.

Edwards, though, is confident that he and his team can keep focused for the final three races and not giving up hope just yet. Roush Fenway has won six of the 15 Cup races held at Texas, including this spring when Edwards cruised to victory lane. But guess who finished second? Yes, it was Johnson.

"I know right now and until the last lap at Homestead is over, [my team] will be working as if we are the ones who are going to win this championship," Edwards said. "That's really tough to do sometimes with so much coverage of the sport, so many people talking and speculating. I think that's one of the mental sides of it that we can benefit from, if we stay strong like that for these last three races."

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Series NASCAR-CUP