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Carl Edwards Motivated for First Sprint Cup Title

If you happen to be a Buffalo Bills fans during the years when Jim Kelly was the quarterback of their team during the 1990’s, you can probably relate to how Carl Edwards fans must feel about this moment today at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Edwards has come oh-so-close to winning his elusive first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship virtually since his first full-time season in this series in 2005.

When he nearly pulled off the unthinkable as a freshman racer, he made it an even somewhat closer fight just three years later.

Edwards looks to apply his past title fights with today's season finale.

Edwards looks to apply his past title fights with today’s season finale.

Despite winning nine races in 2008, Jimmie Johnson and his No. 48 team parlayed consistency to defeat Edwards and his Roush Fenway efforts, a result that may have stymied their momentum for a couple of years.

Fast forward to 2011 and Edwards implemented the consistency tactic that Johnson masterfully used to beat him for the prized trophy in NASCAR racing.

Even with 19 top-fives and 26 top-10’s, it was not enough to stave off the hard charging Tony Stewart, who won half of The Chase races that season.  Although Edwards and Stewart finished in a tie in the final points rundown, the latter took the tiebreaker by virtue of the number of wins (five to one).

Edwards traverses the unique Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/The Racing Experts)

Edwards traverses the unique Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/The Racing Experts)

Following a somewhat tumultuous 2012 campaign, Edwards began the steady rally back to championship form. Departing from Roush Fenway after 2014 to his current racing home at Joe Gibbs Racing starting last year, Edwards has found that groove that’s made him a formidable competitor for wins and championship battles.

Harnessing that aggression that was on display during the early portion of 2015 into the skilled, masterful veteran racer throughout this season, Edwards found some motivation this week by watching a replay of perhaps the race that had to be the most bitter defeat for any racer: the 2011 Ford 400.

“At first I thought, man, I don’t want to watch this, and then I watched it, and I thought, this is go for me,” Edwards said.  “I need to get to remember what that was like and remember — and get a glimpse and a view of how important this is, and it really was.  It was motivating.  When I shut it off, I was really ready to race right then.”

All year long, Edwards has shown that killer instinct on the track, seizing the moment when it’s there while knowing for the right time to push the envelope.

Even when the pressure was on with the No. 19 team following their tough start to the Round of 8 at Martinsville, this team remained unwavering in their title efforts, which was prevalent when they won the following race at Texas.

“What was neat about Texas, Dave and I talked about it this week, is the pressure was on, and we had fun,” Edwards observed.  “It was really a fun race.  And it worked out.  I thought, man, well, there it is.  We can do it.  It was a pretty straightforward race. We ran well enough, ran up front, pit crew was awesome.”

This isn’t Edward’s first rodeo to a championship fight.  However, it’s most certainly the opportunity that he’s awaited since 2011 and why he’s made the jump from Roush Fenway to Gibbs.

Having been close three times, perhaps those down times in the past and earlier in The Chase at Martinsville could be the reasons why “Cousin Carl” becomes “Championship Carl.”

“I’m aware that the race can go that way at Homestead, or it can be a complete disaster that we have to recover from and perform that way,” Edwards said.

Having seen what a title has done for teammate Kyle Busch, that elusive championship would mean wonders for Edwards, particularly being a veteran of this series for the past 11 years.

Edwards looks to become the first 24 actor to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup title.

Edwards looks to become the first 24 actor to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup title.

“Yeah, it would be great.  I think it would be great for — you can print that,” Edwards said.  “It would be great for a different reason for me at this point in my career than when I started.

I’m sorry to just realize how difficult this is, obviously, and for me, it would be good for me to do it for Coach Gibbs for starting this fourth team, for Dave Rogers, for all the people who have helped me.”

Rob Tiongson is a sports writer and editor originally from the Boston area and resides in the Austin, Texas, area. Tiongson has covered motorsports series like NASCAR and INDYCAR since 2008 and NHRA since 2013. Most recently, Tiongson is covering professional basketball, mainly the WNBA, and women's college basketball. While writing and editing for The Podium Finish, Tiongson currently seeks for a long-term sportswriting and sports content creating career. Tiongson enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson is an alum of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and St. Bonaventure University's renowned Jandoli School of Communication with a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism.

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