Blog Entry

Edwards leads list of next first time champions

Posted on: November 25, 2011 12:53 pm
Edited on: November 25, 2011 5:33 pm
By Pete Pistone

Image Detail
(Edwards will be doing flips over a Sprint Cup Series championship before too long)

Tony Stewart
is enjoying his third Sprint Cup Series championship after prevailing in the most dramatic title race the sport has ever seen. 

Stewart’s thrilling drive to this year’s crown derailed Carl Edwards’ shot at taking his first Cup title and sent the Roush Fenway Racing driver into a bittersweet offseason. 

But Edwards can take solace in that he’s a member of a club that includes some pretty impressive names all still searching for Sprint Cup championship No. 1.

Edwards leads the list of top ten current drivers never to have won the title at NASCAR’s highest level and appears to have the best chance to erase his name from that roster: 

No. 1

Carl Edwards 

If the old adage of having to lose one before winning a championship applies then Edwards is a shoo-in for a Cup crown. The experience of being involved in the closest title race in NASCAR history will help Edwards cope with the pressure when he contends again, which should come as soon as next season. Edwards is the lead dog at Roush Fenway Racing and with a brand new contract, hefty sponsor support and all of the organization’s resources at his disposal, "Cousin Carl" will be on the preseason favorite list for several seasons to come. 

No. 2

Denny Hamlin 

Like Edwards, Hamlin knows the disappointment of coming so close to NASCAR's Holy Grail only to fall bitterly short. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver followed up his championship run of 2010 with a disappointing season chock full of mechanical issues and engine problems. JGR’s commitment to eradicate those power plant gremlins is key to Hamlin returning to championship form in 2012. 

No. 3

Kevin Harvick 

Despite scoring multiple victories and making solid runs at the championship the last two years, Harvick reportedly pushed for a change at crew chief and sent veteran Gil Martin packing as season's end. Shane Wilson gets moved over from inside the Richard Childress Racing stable to call the shots for the No. 29 team next season but the question of whether or not Harvick can make a serious run for the title still lies behind the wheel. Harvick's fiery personality and emotions need to be held in check to some degree for a title shot to come to fruition. 

No. 4

Greg Biffle 

"The Biff" is still trying to become the first driver in NASCAR history to win titles in the Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series. He has the talent to do contend and the Roush organization’s resources behind him. But Biffle will have to find a way to be much more consistent that the wild roller-coaster seasons he has had in recent years. 

No. 5

Kyle Busch 

This was to be the year Busch finally became a legitimate Sprint Cup title contender and put to rest the doubts that have plagued him since he first moved to the top level of the sport. Despite coming into the Chase as the number one seed on the strength of his four regular season victories, Busch once again faded in the playoffs and saw the wheels completely come off with his emotional meltdown in the celebrated truck series incident with Ron Hornaday at Texas. Unless Busch can finally harness those emotions he will never be able to win a Cup title pure and simple. 

No. 6

Kasey Kahne 

Easily one of the hottest drivers down the stretch of the 2011 season, Kahne's move to Hendrick Motorsports next year provides the best opportunity to challenge for a Sprint Cup crown. It may not come in 2012, but Kahne and crew chief Kenny Francis have the look of a tandem that can work their way to the top of the mountain sooner rather than later. 

No. 7

Brad Keselowski 

His breakout season of 2011 was not a mirage. Keselowski matured tremendously this past season and the chemistry he shares with crew chief Paul Wolfe is among the best in the Sprint Cup garage. The nurturing hand of team owner Roger Penske will help guide Keselowski’s ascension to championship contender in years to come. 

No. 8

Dale Earnhardt Jr. 

The clock is ticking on Earnhardt's quest for a Sprint Cup championship. He made vast improvement in 2011 and struck a nearly perfect chord with crew chief Steve Letarte. Just making the Chase was a stellar achievement for a team that ended last year floundering. However more gains need to be made in a hurry for Earnhardt to join the ranks as title contender.

No. 9

Ryan Newman

At times Newman demonstrated a perfect balance of wins and consistency this past season, showing he was capable of both. But it was short-lived and a string of disappointing performances ended any chance to contending for the crown early on in the Chase. He's a member of a championship-winning organization at Stewart-Haas Racing but at this point is light years behind his boss and teammate Tony Stewart on the title radar. 

No. 10

Clint Bowyer 

Had Bowyer remained at Richard Childress Racing, his championship caliber stock would have remained higher than it is now with the move to Michael Waltrip Racing. Although MWR has made adjustments in hopes of bringing the organization to the next level including the hiring of form RCR cog Scott Miller as Director of Competition, Bowyer will have his hands full trying to compete for wins and a title early on as the team tries to sort things out.

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Since: Sep 19, 2011
Posted on: December 2, 2011 4:34 pm

Edwards leads list of next first time champions

Can not believe Kasey Kahne is not listed in this group.  Well, at least that means you heard it here first.  He has proved he can compete through the turmoil of changing teams, adapting well.  He will have the Hendrick resources, and runs well at the Chase tracks.  He is my pick.

He is #6 bro....cant hear it from you first if he done said it lol! I agree though he was there those last few races just as consistant as Smoke and Carl! He is a very talented driver cant wait to see him in a Hendrick car.

Since: Mar 11, 2009
Posted on: November 30, 2011 1:46 pm

Edwards leads list of next first time champions

well NASCAR can always change the points system again... I worry about ol' Cousin Carl everytime he wins... is he gonna stick the landing?!

Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: November 28, 2011 12:50 pm

I type what I can SEE, puppyboy....

@ teres minor...

Gotta send this whimpering puppy back to his box.... When you're 50 years old, this number 10 font they give you is hard to see... now why should I squint at the monitor just so this puppy won't complain?!  Small type, squint.... bold type, no squint.... ha, easy choice for me!   Now if I Really wanted to be BOLD, I could use the 'Heading 1' type, vs. the 'Heading 3'.... Or you can just run crying to CBS and ask 'em why they can't offer number 12 font like everybody else does.... FYI, I never use number 10 for ANYTHING, why should I?  So if you don't like bold, don't read it and run outside and play, there's no one stopping you Puppy!

Since: Jan 29, 2008
Posted on: November 28, 2011 12:46 pm

Edwards leads list of next first time champions

I felt kinda bad for Carl even though I don't particularly like him. To have the best overall season of anyone by far and tie for the lead in points and have nothing to show for it has to really sting. Although there has to be some solace in that he just flat out got beat by Smoke, he couldn't really have run much better or made fewer mistakes. Not like Hamlin last year who is probably still wondering why he decided to take it 3 wide with plenty of race left to run. Regardless, nice to see a different team finally beat driver 48. Even better to have it come down to a duel to the last lap.

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: November 28, 2011 12:18 am

Who is the idiot with the large, bold type?

People who have to type large and bold to get attention aren't worth reading.  I'm sure he had something really great to say, though.  Whoever you are, maybe you should just contribute like everyone else here.  Oh, and please don't play the "I can't see so I use a large font" card.

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: November 28, 2011 12:15 am

Kyle Busch leads list of next first time champs

Kyle Busch has more talent than anyone out there, but he hasn't learned how to focus his anger into enhanced performance instead of letting it detract from what he is doing.  If he ever learns how to turn anger into what golfers call "dead aim," nobody will be able to touch him.
As for Edwards, I am a Stewart fan, but I still have to admit that Edwards would be a great representative for NASCAR, and it would be very, very good for the sport if he won the Cup soon.   

Since: Sep 11, 2006
Posted on: November 26, 2011 10:59 pm

Edwards leads list of next first time champions

ask mark martin about this theory.  mark had a career year in 1998 and never got any closer to winning a title afterwards. 

anyway, i am not a carl edwards fan, but i thought he conducted himself as a real professional with grace in losing.  i wonder if the busch brothers learned anything by watching edwards?  doubt it.  CE will get his championship eventually...maybe not next year, but eventually.

Since: Dec 14, 2006
Posted on: November 26, 2011 4:35 pm

Edwards leads list of next first time champions

Can not believe Kasey Kahne is not listed in this group.  Well, at least that means you heard it here first.  He has proved he can compete through the turmoil of changing teams, adapting well.  He will have the Hendrick resources, and runs well at the Chase tracks.  He is my pick.

Since: Nov 5, 2011
Posted on: November 26, 2011 4:17 pm

Recoed seems clear that...

....if you want a Cup title, then DON'T moonlight in NW or the trucks. Harvick's abdication on moonlighting would seem to bear this out as well as there has never be a co-title holder. By the time a driver runs all the practice, qualifying, PR work, and everything else involved, when he really needs 110% of his talents at the end of a Cup race, his energies have been exhausted running crap races that really don't matter. You can only serve one master well but many poorly. Carl and Roush should have learned this by now.

Since: Nov 5, 2009
Posted on: November 26, 2011 1:11 pm

Edwards leads list of next first time champions

One name debunks this whole theory... Mark Martin... End of story..

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