He didn't have the best of luck during the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Season, but Carl Edwards was a solid performer since the beginning of the season. While it would have been a great year for the average driver, expectations were high for the #99 Ford Fusion Team after Carl's runner-up 2011 championship finish in the closest Sprint Cup season points battle in the history of NASCAR combined with his incredible run of wins in 2011's Nationwide Series. Carl is our hero and, after 2011, we expected him to win every race in 2012. He didn't win any.
At last, the smile returns to the face of Carl Edwards as we move on to 2013. He is smiling, no grinning, after he piloted his 2013 Subway powered Ford Fusion to a dominant victory in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at the Phoenix International Raceway on March 3rd. It certainly wasn't a solo effort, as his team managed to get Carl on and off pit road faster than all his competitors. Since Carl's Subway Fusion wasn't the fastest to hit the track on Friday morning when the Cup cars started practice, his new-for-2013 crew chief Jimmy Fennig went to work making changes on Edward's ride. This hard work, combined with great race day calls on the box, best-in-class pit stop performance and Carl's skillful driving kept his beautiful Gen-6 Fusion up front for 129 of the 316 laps in Phoenix on his way to a 1.024 second win over five-time Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson. This was Carl's 20th Sprint Cup win and the first for Ford's new 2013 Gen-6 Fusion.
Carl had a commanding lead on the field after pit stops on lap 238. The #99 Subway team was one of five that thought they could go the rest of the way on fuel. The eighth and last caution of the day came out with seven laps to go for a single car incident involving Kenny Schrader. "I thought for the last few laps it was gonna be easy and then they had that caution," said Edwards. "It was an awesome restart. Brad Keselowski pushed me and that meant a lot. He stayed in line there and he pushed and we got a Ford to Victory Lane, so I've got to thank Brad. I've got to thank my crew." Subway Restaurants definitely got a great return on their investment in Carl and in the Phoenix International Speedway. "These guys were unreal and Subway, this is the Subway Fresh Fit 500. We just won the race in the Subway Ford Fusion. This is insane, very cool," said Carl.
While still very early in the season, Ford is doing quite well in the Race To The 2013 Sprint Cup Championship. All of Roush Fenway's three drivers are in the top 12, both of Richard Petty Motorsports drivers are in and Brad Keslowski is also near the top of the standings. Joey Logano is the only driver from a major Ford team not in the Top 12, but we expect great things to come from his Todd Gordon led Penske Penzoil Fusion team. Carl is certainly excited to see what the 2013 season holds in store for Ford and for his Roush Fenway team. Fellow competitor Denny Hamlin may have stated it best. "Carl is relevant again."