Sprint Cup drivers Bowyer, Edwards switch spots
Auto Racing Videos
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer returned to home track Kansas Speedway a year ago at different points in their careers.
Edwards had claimed the top spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship a week earlier and was locked into a tense title race. Bowyer used the venue to announce his next career move after a nerve-racking summer scouring a limited free-agent market.
Things couldn't be any more different a year later as they've returned for Sunday's race.
It's Bowyer, in his first year with Michael Waltrip Racing, who is a title contender. Edwards, who lost the championship to Tony Stewart on a tiebreaker, is stuck in neutral after a steep drop-off.
“Man, this thing is so competitive,” Edwards said. “I cannot express to you guys how quickly everyone leapfrogs in the garage.”
There is no better example than Bowyer and Edwards of how fast the landscape can change in the Sprint Cup Series.
Edwards, who still lives two hours away in hometown Columbia, Mo., goes into Sunday's race ranked 15th in the standings. He's not in the 12-driver Chase field and is stuck in a 64-race winless streak dating to Phoenix in February 2011. It's the longest drought of his nine-year Sprint Cup career.
Bob Osborne, his longtime crew chief, stepped down midway through this season for health reasons, and Edwards has been adapting to Chad Norris.
This wasn't what anyone had in mind after last year's finale, which ended in a tie between Edwards and Stewart. The championship went to Stewart based on his five Chase victories, and Edwards sat down with the Roush Fenway Racing management group to figure out where they could have found that one difference-making point.
“Well, that didn't work very well, did it?” he asked.
While teammates Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth have won races and made the Chase, Edwards has struggled to match the consistency and repeat the dominance of last season. But he's seen improvement and has four top-10 finishes in the 12 races he's been paired with Norris.
“Chad and these guys have done a spectacular job,” Edwards said. “We qualified second at Indy, and we started picking up speed. I wouldn't want to be in Chad's position. We didn't make the Chase, but as it stands right now if we would have made it, we're still not running well enough and we're getting caught up with troubles that we don't need. It's not like we've gone on a tear and won three races. This is kind of how of where we deserve to be right now.”
The contrast is Bowyer, from 90 minutes away in Emporia. He's having the best season of his career with a team he wasn't even sure he wanted to join.
Bowyer had six good years with Richard Childress Racing and wanted to stay there but couldn't work out an extension last season. With so few open seats, fledgling MWR persuaded Bowyer to take a chance on them because they had a plan in place toward becoming a legitimate player in NASCAR.
That leap of faith may be the best decision Bowyer's ever made.
His win last Saturday night at Charlotte was his career-best third of the season and edged him back into the title race. He goes into Sunday's race ranked fourth in the standings, 28 points behind leader Brad Keselowski.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- McCutchen, Pirates hitters increasingly in crosshairs
- Pirates minor league report: Ramirez more mindful while at plate
- Starting 9: Pirates missing out on young bat
- Biertempfel: Loss of All-Star paper ballots a blow to nostalgia
- Locke pitches 8 scoreless innings as Pirates edge Indians
- Grandmother of boy dropped at Uniontown Hospital says he’s in ICU
- Innovation enhances Philadelphia’s history as Democrats convene, Pope Francis visits
- Pirates trust eye test when voting for all-stars
- Starkey: Bring back the Brawl!
- Pennsylvania’s ‘Grand Canyon’ offers something for everyone
- Apollo-Ridge’s Tipton, Connellsville’s Wiltrout are Pittsburgh Trib’s Athletes of the Year