Carl Edwards at ease in the midst of the Chase

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs

Handling the pressure of the Chase is what can make or break a winning team. Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team have succeeded in handling the pressure, while in the past we have seen many teams falter once they make the Chase.

Currently tied for the points lead after three races, Carl Edwards is seeking his first Sprint Cup title. In the heat of the battle, the driver of the No. 99 for Roush Fenway Racing has scored more points than any other Chase contenders in the first three races. Edwards also is the only one of the 12 drivers to score all top-10 finishes in the three Chase races.

Looking from his past experiences, Edwards said during today's NASCAR teleconference, "As far as the pressure’s concerned, I feel a little different about the Chase this time than I did in 2008. I think I’m a little more at ease with the whole situation. I feel like I’m excited at the opportunity to go race every week, not really nervous. I feel like if we do our job right, run the way we should, we should have a chance to compete for it. In a sense, I’m just having more fun competing than I did in 2008. I’m just enjoying the competition. That’s neat." 

Edwards continued by saying, "We’re only three races in. If we’re eight or nine races in, who knows what will happen. Right now I’m just enjoying it."

The other important factor in determining Edwards' fate in the Chase is crew chief Bob Osborne. Edwards was asked if Osborne's demeanor has changed since entering the Chase, since he is usually a very serious man to begin with. 

Edwards said, "The question has always been, you know, what’s more important, the driver or the car. Now I think you can make that a three-part. There are three options: the driver, car or crew chief. I think all three of them are important. I think without all three of those things, you’re not going to win a substantial number of these races."

The unknown variables are what throws Edwards as a driver, for example, Phoenix. Edwards spoke to the media while testing from Phoenix's new surface. 

"I’m sitting here right now looking at this racetrack at Phoenix. This track now is going to be one of those tracks where a two-tire call or a no-tire call could be the call that wins the race," said Edwards. "Those calls are very, very difficult. I sit in the racecar and I can’t decide what we should do. It tears me up trying. I don’t even know if I want to give an opinion."

Sitting in the driver's seat, Edwards said the stress lies with Osborne. "I think right now, more than ever, a crew chief who can make those decisions is extremely valuable."
The relationship between a driver and crew chief is essential to success, and Edwards and Osborne have proven to be a winning combination. "With Bob and I, we work very well," Edwards said on the duo's pairing. "We worked hard. We made wrong decisions this year. I feel that we’ve learned from them. I wouldn’t choose any other crew chief in the garage over Bob Osborne and his ability to win these races."
Together, Edwards and Osborne will head into the final seven races and attempt to win the Sprint Cup championship. With many unknowns ahead (specifically Talladega and a repaved Phoenix), their experience from past Chase performances will be an essential key to success.
Carl Edwards at ease in the midst of the Chase Carl Edwards at ease in the midst of the Chase Reviewed by Unknown on Wednesday, October 05, 2011 Rating: 5