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CUP: Chase Bio — Carl Edwards

CARL EDWARDS, Roush Fenway RacingPoints position: 5th2010 season: 0 wins, 6 top-fives, 13 top-10sDefining moment: Second place, Chicagoland Speedway

Carl Edwards hasn’t won a race this Sprint Cup season, but most observers would place him in the handful of drivers with a good shot at winning the championship as the Chase begins.

PHOTOS: 2010 Chase Contenders - Carl Edwards

After a less-than-productive first half of the season, Edwards has been solidly consistent in the second half. Although he has continued to find victory lane elusive, Edwards leads the series in best average finish over the past nine races, leading to the start of the Chase.

A landmark for Edwards – and for Roush Fenway Racing – was reached July 10 at Chicagoland Speedway when he finished second to David Reutimann. RFR had struggled to field competitive cars virtually the entire first half of the season, and Edwards’ strong run at the suburban Chicago track established the fact that the team had begun its turnaround.

Two races later, Greg Biffle broke Ford’s winless run by finishing first at Pocono, and RFR continued to show solid gains.

Edwards followed his second-place finish at Chicago with runs of seventh, third, fifth, third, 12th and second to climb in the point standings from a shaky 12th to a solid fifth.

“I can’t say what turned it around,” Edwards said. “Bob [crew chief Bob Osborne] and the guys have just been working hard, and that’s what it’s about. When they go to the shop and we’re not running the way they want, they’ve got to keep digging and keep working. I know we don’t look like we did in 2008, but we’re better set to go race for that championship now than we’ve ever been.”

Edwards hasn’t won a race since the 2008 season finale in Homestead, Fla. That’s a 61-race string, but he figures to be a force once the tour rolls into New Hampshire for the Chase opener.

PHOTOS: 2010 Chase Contenders - Carl Edwards

Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 28 years. He has written several books on NASCAR, including "NASCAR: The Definitive History of America's Sport" and "Then Tony Said To Junior: The Best NASCAR Stories Ever Told". He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.