NASCAR driver Carl Edwards has been through a lot over the last several seasons, but one thing is clear, Edwards continues to have the fan support that so many other drivers wish they had. Winning always helps the cause of course, but what else makes pulling for Edwards so special?
In 2005, Edwards went on to win a total of four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins, did I mention that was his first full season racing in the big leagues? Since then Edwards has been as consistent as one can get, if he isn’t winning, he is at least bringing home the decent finishes needed to make the chase.
Jack Roush saw something in the young driver from Columbia, Missouri, something other owners are probably kicking themselves for not pursuing a driver who possess that much talent. Roush seems to exceed expectations when selecting young drivers with great talent, only to groom them into a championship caliber driver.
By the time 2008 came around, Edwards was a house hold name. Known for performing his infamous back flips off his 99 machine after each victory, Edwards had all eyes on him and he knew it. Just being in the spotlight can boost one’s confidence. This was a magical season for Edwards, winning 9 races certainly didn’t hurt anything.
Entering into the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, many already thought Edwards was a “lock” at winning his first career championship however, this was not so. All of Roush Fenway Racing struggled during this time. As the competition grew stronger (HMS and JGR), Roush seemed like they just couldn’t catch up. Edwards went from leading 1282 laps in 2008, to just leading 164 laps in all of 2009.
The first half of 2010 was very similar to 2009, but Roush Fenway had something planned that other teams didn’t have, and that was the new FR9 engine packages. This engine package was not only more durable but more powerful, just what a driver like Edwards needed. The second half of the season went well, but the 99 team treated it as if it were a “pre-cursor” of what the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season could be like.
It seems as if NASCAR has their “whipping boy” in Kyle Busch, but does NASCAR actually have a “golden boy”? Since NASCAR came to be, there has always been a “face of the sport”. I think the most popular “golden boy” would have to be Richard Petty, but for more reasons than just one. The most popular current driver would have to be Dale Earnhardt Jr., but I’m not so convinced he is NASCAR’s golden boy. I use this term loosely, not to say NASCAR looks out for the interest of this particular driver, but I use it to show what NASCAR as a whole (including fans think of him). You don’t see many “Anti-Edwards” fans around, actually I think most like him, but for different reasons.
It’s okay to have a driver like Edwards, it’s good for the sport. My question to you, If Edwards is not the fan’s choice as their golden boy, then who is?