|Carl Edwards has done well with junk cars this season (Getty)|
For almost two months, Carl Edwards has been outside looking in at the Chase as a driver outside the top-10 in points with no wins on the season. Edwards and the No. 99 Roush-Fenway team have maintained the 11th position for several weeks and with no breakthrough occurring, crew chief Bob Osborne stepped down following Sunday’s New Hampshire race, but will remain with the organization in other capacities.
“At this time in my life, however, concerns with my health have necessitated that I change my role within the organization,” Osborne added. “This transition is not an easy one, but I’m thankful to have the full support of Jack, Carl and the entire organization. I also have every confidence in Chad Norris, and I look forward to working with him as we continue to pursue a championship in 2012. I also appreciate the privacy and respect that the community will give me and my family during this difficult time.”
Osborne was Edwards’ first crew chief for his Sprint Cup debut in 2004, and the two have combined for 18 wins and two runner-up finishes in season-ending Sprint Cup Series point standings.
The reference to his health comes at a convenient time considering Edwards has only seven races remaining to try and move into the top-10. 46 points separates Edwards from Brad Keselowski in the 10th slot and only 55-points behind Kevin Harvick in the sixth slot. The disappointment would make anyone not feel well.
The formula is pretty simple from here on out, he’s got to win and do it fast. Had Edwards already had a win right now, he would currently claim one of the two wild card slots reserved drivers inside the top-20 with the most wins. Those sports are currently occupied by Kasey Kahne, who now has two wins, and Kyle Busch who is the top points earner outside the top-10 among three drivers with one win. Both Kahne and Busch are behind Edwards in points.
It’s amazing that Edwards has been able to stay in the position he’s been in all year despite only having two top-5 finishes through the first 19 races, both of which came within the first five races at Las Vegas and Fontana. Since then, it seems like Edwards has been fighting an uphill battle taking cars that looked like junk in practice to respectable finishes.
Ultimately, with the success that teammates Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth have had this season, more is expected out of the team that finished dead even in points last season, only to lose the tie-breaker (season wins) to Tony Stewart. If a car is underperforming and a few poor decisions have been made by the crew chief, then the Chief rightfully gets the blame.
The LVH Super Book currently has Edwards 20-to-1 to win the win the Championship. Edwards was one of the favorites to begin the season with Jimmie Johnson, which shows what kind of high expectations there were for the No. 99 team.
Roush-Fenway veteran Chad Norris will take over the crew chief duties for the remainder of the season, a move team owner Jack Roush hopes will give them a spark.
Based on the way Edwards has run this season it would appear doubtful that he makes the Chase. The only track that he figures to have somewhat of an advantage at would be Atlanta in race No. 25. Even if Edwards were somehow able to capture a win there, Kyle Busch might have another win by then giving him two on the season and remain one-up on Edwards.
If you took the chalk on Edwards to start the year, it's time to jump ship and salvage anything possible.
LVH SUPER BOOK UPDATED ODDS (7-17-12)
2012 SPRINT CUP CHAMPIONSHIP
JIMMIE JOHNSON 3
CARL EDWARDS 20
KYLE BUSCH 12
MATT KENSETH 8
JEFF GORDON 18
KASEY KAHNE 10
TONY STEWART 7
KEVIN HARVICK 12
DENNY HAMLIN 7
GREG BIFFLE 12
BRAD KESELOWSKI 10
CLINT BOWYER 25
DALE EARNHARDT JR 8
RYAN NEWMAN 50
KURT BUSCH 500
MARTIN TRUEX JR 30
JEFF BURTON 300
JOEY LOGANO 60
JUAN MONTOYA 300
JAMIE McMURRAY 300
AJ ALLMENDINGER 500
PAUL MENARD 300
MARCOS AMBROSE 300