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Carl Edwards Talks Talladega Strategy

Carl Edwards Talks Talladega Strategy

by October 15, 2014 0 comments

Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

TALLADEGA, Ala. — Carl Edwards is sitting pretty heading into Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway – the final race of the Chase’s Contender Round.

The driver of the No. 99 Ford for Roush-Fenway Racing sits fifth in the drivers’ standings and is safe from elimination by 19 points entering Talladega. To clinch a spot in the Eliminator Round, Edwards has to finish 18th or better without leading a lap, 19th or better with leading a single lap, and 20th or better after leading the most laps.

Entering Talladega, a track notorious for its sudden major pileups and its intense three-to-four-wide action, Edwards and crew chief Jimmy Fennig have yet to determine the strategy that they will use for the 188-lap race.

With so many variables constantly changing throughout the race and with some such as starting position yet to be determined, Edwards himself isn’t positive on how the No. 99 team will attack the 2.66-mile superspeedway.

“I am not sure yet,” Edwards said of his strategy for Sunday. “We’ll have to see where we qualify and how basically the starting lineup shapes up. If we’re out front, we definitely want to stay there. If we’re in the middle, I don’t know how aggressive I would want to be early on.

“We just have to basically watch where our competition is running and try not to get caught up in the race too much and focus on the fact that we have an opportunity to advance to the next round based on our good finishes at Kansas and Charlotte.”

Edwards and Fennig have however been running through different scenarios and the strategies they’d implement for each of them.

“We will basically have a plan for each scenario,” Edwards continued. “Early on let’s say anyone that we were racing for points were to get caught up in something, yeah, it’s a lot more fun to just go race, race for the front, try to go get the win.

“If it looks like other guys are playing it safe, they’re taking less risks, we would probably have to follow suit just so we don’t do something foolish. I mean, the way the format is, is that we feel like we have a big opportunity to make it to this next round. Especially with everything that’s going on and the craziness that has happened, we feel like this is perfectly suited to us and we don’t want to give that opportunity up.”

Along with choosing the right strategy for Sunday, finding the right balance on how conservative or how aggressive he should run during various stages of the GEICO 500 will be a bit tricky for not just Edwards, but for the nine other drivers fighting for an Eliminator Round spot as well.

As Edwards alluded to earlier, staying out of trouble will be the major key in moving on to the next round of the Chase from Talladega. Despite only needing a mid-pack finish on Sunday to punch his ticket to the next round, Edwards knows that one wrong move on the track, a simple part failure, or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time could unravel his championship hopes.

“18th or better sounds simple to do, but it is not at Talladega,” Edwards says. “Talladega obviously poses bigger risks than most racetracks. That’s because you are literally in a pack of cars. One mistake or one parts failure or something on any of those cars could affect you.

“You’re not just subject to your own mistakes or your own problems, but being in a pack like that makes it very easy to finish 40th even if you’re doing everything right. It is a tougher race to guarantee a good finish.”

Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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