By admin | May 24, 2010
By Richard Allen
There has been a great deal of attention focused on the struggles of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. on this website and just about every other NASCAR related media outlet. However, one driver has struggled every bit as much over the past year and a half or so and not nearly so much attention has been paid.
Carl Edwards was voted into the Sprint All Star Race by the fans. While he may not have the same following as Junior, he obviously has a great many supporters. No doubt, those fans are every bit as disappointed by their favoriteâ€™s lack of success as those of Earnhardt.
Edwards last won in 2008. That season, he won nine races and was considered by many to be the favorite for the Sprint Cup championship coming into 2009. To call last year anything other than a disappointment for the Roush Fenway Racing driver would be a misstatement.
He did qualify for the Chase for the Championship but was never really a factor on his way to an 11th place finish. Currently, Edwards ranks inside the top-12 of the standings, but again, he has not been a serious contender up to now.
Since the end of 2008 Edwards has almost completely faded from the front of the field altogether. He has had only eight top-5 finishes in the 48 races since winning in Homestead at the end of his most successful year.
Unlike Earnhardt, however, Edwards is driving for an entire organization that has struggled over the course of the past season and a half. Roush Fenway Racing won only three times in 2009 and has not yet scored a victory in 2010.
Edwards career has been somewhat filled with these type of ups and downs. In the seven years he has driven on the Sprint Cup circuit he has only won races in three seasons. In 2005 he won four times. He added three wins in 2007 and nine in 2008.
Like Earnhardt, Edwards drives one of the most heavily sponsored cars in NASCAR while at the same time his career has run hot and cold. And also like Junior, some have started to question which is the driverâ€™s real ability level. Is this bad run an aberration from his true talent or is this the real Carl Edwards?
Edwards and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. have several things in common. Both have large numbers of fans. Both are heavily sponsored and drive for high profile teams. And most importantly, both are in the midst of long dry spells that many people, including themselves, would like to see come to an end.
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Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.
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