NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Shakedown Session: Can Cousin Carl Keep His Mojo Working At Bristol?

The old Jerry Reed song “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot” most certainly applies, not just as of late, but throughout the Sprint Cup career of Carl Edwards. When he’s been winning, he’s been one of the more dominant drivers in the series. But when he’s in a drought, it has taken him time to get back on track. At the moment? Carl Edwards is the talk of the circuit right now with his runner-up finish to Trevor Bayne at Daytona, and his win at Las Vegas, despite not being the dominant car of the afternoon. He had a car capable of winning at Phoenix, sitting on the pole with a new track record, but got taken out in a freak mishap with Kyle Busch. Carl very easily could have been three for three to start the season. One has to wonder will this momentum carry over to Bristol next Sunday? This edition of the “Shakedown Session” will examine the reasons why he will and why he won’t.

Let’s start with why Carl will keep his momentum going into Bristol. F irst off, Carl is no stranger to Victory Lane inside the hallowed coliseum in the hills of Tennessee. He’s won at Bristol not once, but twice, in his career in 2007 and again in 2008. He’s also logged five finishes in the top-12 there. Plus, in terms of on-track perfomance, it’s hard to argue that Edwards and crew chief Bob Osborne haven’t hit on something special. No other driver has been running up front quite as prominently as Edwards. One could make an argument for Tony Stewart, but outside of his Las Vegas performance, he’s been quietly running toward the front. And when he’s run like this, history has shown that he will go on to multiple wins in a season. Cases in point: 2005, he won four races. In 2007, he won three races. And the biggest example is 2008, when he won a staggering nine races. Judging by this logic, it’s tricky to argue that this gravy train of success won’t keep rolling through Bristol.

But, for argument’s sake, allow me to list the reasons why it won’t continue. For one thing, Carl has six finishes of 15th or worse at the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile”. Plus, Bristol is not a track that one can simply waltz through. Trouble at Bristol can strike anyone early and often, and it’s often indiscrimatory of whom the trouble will plague. And eventually, Carl’s good fortune has to run out at some point. Not all good things can last forever and Bristol could very well be a bit of a reality check for Edwards. Plus, having the ace-in-the-hole Bob Osborne is neutralized at Bristol by the fact that racing there is more about survival than pit strategy on most occasions, so the aggressive nature of Bristol will serve to neutralize Osborne’s brilliant strategy techniques somewhat.

In short, there are many reasons as to whether Carl can keep the winning form going along with a great deal of reasons why he won’t. The biggest question of all will be how will Carl bounce back from adversity and how quickly will he recover. He’s had winless streaks of 52 races and 70 races, so it has taken time in the past for Carl to bounce back. But, there’s still plenty of reasons to think that Carl is back to his 2008 form and with his strong start, combined with the early-season struggles of the five-time champion Jimmie Johnson, there’s no reason to think that Carl won’t be the driver to usurp the throne from Johnson. Only time will tell how Carl will fare when adversity finally catches up to him. Will he rise to the occasion or will he wilt under the pressure? The best thing to do is to keep tuning in through-out the season to see if Carl can stay on the winning track or if he hits another lengthy dry spell.

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