Just months after losing the Sprint Cup Series championship to Tony Stewart in a tiebreaker for the first time in the history of the sport, Edwards plummeted to 15th in championship points, missing the cut for the Chase For the NASCAR Sprint Cup and failing to win a single race.
Edwards ended a 70-race winless streak with a victory at Phoenix International Raceway Sunday, prompting Roush to admit that his marquee driver did not have the personnel around him to succeed last season.
“We were holding Carl back last year without meaning to, just because we didn’t have the right chemistry around him,” Roush said.
In an effort to correct that shortcoming, Roush shifted veteran Jimmy Fennig to the top of Edwards’ pit box this season, accompanied by virtually all hands from Matt Kenseth’s highly successful 2012 over-the-wall team.
A crew chief at NASCAR’s highest level since 1986, Fennig won the 1988 Daytona 500 with NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison and claimed 14 additional Cup wins with Roush Fenway Racing drivers Mark Martin and Kurt Busch. An avowed “old-school racer,” Fennig has refocused Edwards and his team, producing a win in only their second start.
“I go about my work a little different than some people do,” said Fennig. “I’m a hard worker. We pay attention to detail on our race cars, and that’s about it. I do the same thing I did with Matt and Mark Martin in ’98.”
“That’s the way I work,” he said. “We still have 85 percent of the team left from the 17. (They’re) still there and everybody knows the way I operate (and) what I want. We’re just trying to deliver it to Carl.”
That attention to detail has Edwards anxious to chase his second consecutive checkered flag this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and to be a factor in the title chase once again.
“I'm more excited to go to Vegas than I've been in a long time,” said Edwards, who won the Kobalt Tools 400 there in 2011. “(I’m) very pumped.”