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Power Rankings: Attrition drops contenders; Edwards stays course

by | CBSSports.com NASCAR Blogger
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Here Sunday, passing Jeff Gordon, Edwards admits Martinsville is 'really tough for me.' (Getty Images)  
Here Sunday, passing Jeff Gordon, Edwards admits Martinsville is 'really tough for me.' (Getty Images)  

Updated Oct. 31

The story of Carl Edwards in the Chase is one of being lucky rather than good at times.

But it's been good enough to stay on top of the point standings with only three races left in the season.

The Roush Fenway Racing driver has not exactly been on fire during the playoffs as compared to, say, Tony Stewart, who won for the third time in the Chase on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Pete Pistone Pete Pistone
Martinsville turns into a demolition derby, but three-time Chase winner Tony Stewart is happy as he closes within eight points of Carl Edwards. Read>>

But Edwards continues to do what wins championships in NASCAR and that's stay consistent. Only his run at Talladega two weeks ago ended up outside the top 10, and that's added up to Edwards enjoying an eight-point advantage over Stewart as the Chase hits the stretch run.

Twice in October Edwards pulled off miraculous comebacks to keep his championship hopes alive, first at Kansas Speedway to start the month and then Sunday at Martinsville.

After starting from the pole when qualifying was washed out and the lineup set by points, Edwards went backwards in a hurry at the tight short track, falling two laps behind the leaders at one point and nearly black-flagged for being out of line on a restart another time.

But as his competitors continued to take one another out of contention and attrition mounted over the aggressive afternoon, Edwards stayed the course.

"This track has been really, really tough for me," Edwards said. "I think this is one of those days where everything went wrong and everything went right as well. Unfortunately the timing of those things worked out so we finished ninth."

Edwards looked to other areas of the sports world for some motivation to help him through his adventurous day in Martinsville.

"It's unreal," he laughed. "We were so bad probably 200 laps to go, I was thinking, 'Okay, the Cardinals didn't give up the other night. That's a little motivation. Missouri Tigers didn't give up the other night. That's motivation.' I became all right with the fact we were going to finish 20th or 25th. I was already thinking about Texas, everything we were going to do.

"My guys stuck with it and we got very, very fortunate. Just glad we could move on."

Three more weeks like Sunday and Edwards will move on holding on to the Sprint Cup Series championship trophy.

POWER RANKINGS
CurrentDriverPrevious
1Brad Keselowski2
Took over the Chase lead by 20 points thanks to a sixth place finish and Jimmie Johnson?s misfortune. This is now the Penske Racing driver?s championship to lose.
2Jimmie Johnson1
Saw his seven point lead evaporate thanks to a cut tire and trip into the wall on Sunday. Johnson now must hope a similar such fate happens to Keselowski next week at Homestead to have any shot at a sixth title.
3Kyle Busch4
Nearly ran the table in Phoenix by leading all practices and taking the pole had he been able to win the race. But a poor decision on lane choice for a late restart cost Busch a shot at Victory Lane.
4Kasey Kahne5
Ending the year on a positive note but wasn?t able to match his Phoenix victory of last November. Still a solid day with a fourth place performance.
5Clint Bowyer3
Was the victim of Jeff Gordon?s revenge that completely eliminated Bowyer from championship contention. He wasn?t an angel in the turn of events but Bowyer definitely got the worst of the situation.
6Denny Hamlin8
Hamlin?s second place finish in Phoenix a welcome rebound from two weeks of disappointment for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver. He?ll be a factor for a win next Sunday in Homestead.
7Kevin Harvick12
Snapped a 44-race winless drought with Sunday?s win ironically coming on the weekend when reports of his evacuation from Richard Childress Racing to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014 broke out.
8Greg Biffle6
A decent day for ?The Biff? in Phoenix, who was able to dodge all the last lap craziness to bring home his Roush Fenway Racing Ford seventh.
9Joey Logano13
Minding his own business until getting swept up in the Gordon-Bowyer fight. Logano was on his way to a nice effort to follow up his ninth Nationwide Series win on Saturday.
10Ryan Newman14
Rough way to earn a fifth place finish as Newman was one of the unfortunate souls to get caught in the last lap crash on the main straightaway.
11Tony Stewart9
Not a god day at all for Smoke who spun late after making contact racing for position. A 19th place finish for Stewart.
12Matt Kenseth11
Will make the final Sprint Cup start of his career for Roush Fenway Racing next week at Homestead on the heels of a 14th place effort in Phoenix.
13Martin Truex Jr.10
His race was over nearly before it started with a blown engine. After a stellar regular season Truex Jr. has suffered mightily throughout the Chase.
14Carl Edwards15
An 11th place finish for Edwards as he brings to a close one of the most disappointing seasons in his career.
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