It is no secret that, recently, Sprint Cup drivers who finish second in the standings tend to disappoint in the following year. Luckily for Edwards' team, Roush Fenway Racing, teammate Greg Biffle has produced admirably in 2012.
After 10 races last year, Edwards was comfortably in first place by a 23-point margin over Jimmie Johnson and had already recorded one win.
At the 10 race mark in 2012, Edwards' situation is quite different: not only does he not have a win and rests in 11th place, but he would not even make the Chase if the regular season had ended with the Aaron's 499 at Talladega. Because Ryan Newman and Brad Keselowski each have already notched wins in the season, Edwards would not be granted a wild card spot for the Chase.
Trying to follow up a second-place finish in the overall standings has proven difficult for drivers in the ensuing year for the last three years.
Edwards finished second to Jimmie Johnson in 2008. After 10 races in 2009, he was still alive for the Chase in ninth place but ended up finishing 11th overall.
Over the next two years, the trend worsened.
2009's second place overall finisher, Mark Martin, was 10th overall after 10 races in 2010 though he ended up in 13th place overall by season's end. Moreover, he followed up a five-win season with no wins. He has not won a race since that 2009 season.
Denny Hamlin went into the final race of 2010 actually leading the points, but succumbed to Jimmie Johnson for the title after a poor qualifying run and an early accident at Homestead-Miami.
Hamlin's 2011 campaign turned out to be a very rough road. Though he did win a race during the course of the year that helped him get a wild card spot for the Chase, he was all but absent as a contender during the Chase.
After 10 races in 2011, he was in 16th place. Though Hamlin did manage to finish ninth overall in the points at the conclusion of the season, he was fairly lucky to do so: Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman had horrible postseasons, and Kyle Busch all but guaranteed himself 12th place after being parked by NASCAR for a race, thus losing the ability to gain any points.
So, here we stand. Edwards is trending towards the type of numbers that have been posted by second-place finishers after 10 races of the following year for the last three seasons.
The next five races are fairly crucial for Edwards to buck the trend. Though it can't be absolutely said that he has to win in the next five races, it seems quite pertinent.
This is especially the case at Dover on June 3rd. If "Concrete" Carl cannot muster a win, or at least a very, very solid top-five finish, he is almost certain to continue the tradition of the second-place blues for a fourth consecutive year.
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