Edwards, who won eight races in 2008 and finished second in the Cup standings that season, was winless all through 2009 and for the first 34 races of this year.
But in the last three weeks, he’s exploded out of nowhere. Edwards won the NASCAR Nationwide Series races at Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway. On the Cup side, he qualified on the pole at PIR, led all three practice sessions and then won the race. He followed that up with a dominating victory in Sunday’s Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he led 190 of 267 laps en route to an easy win.
So after going 0-for-70, Edwards is now 2-for-2.
No wonder he’s so upbeat about 2011.
“I feel a lot better right now going into 2011 than I did going into 2009, and that's because I feel we have a lot of momentum and things are getting better,” said Edwards after Sunday's race. “We have a new engine that we are working on that just keeps getting better. That is the best performance down a straightaway than I have had in a long time today. We just got a lot of good things going. I can't tell you guys how much this means to finish a season like this.
“This just spectacular for us.”
And the cold, hard truth is that Edwards didn’t forget how to drive during the 70-race drought, but it took a long time for his Roush Fenway Racing squad to get his Fords to perform the way he wanted. He simply didn’t have the speed in his cars that he needed to win.
In the first 24 races of the season, Edwards led just six laps, a deplorably small total. In the last 12, he led 421 laps. Even Edwards has a hard time grasping how drastically his team has turned things around to allow him to end the season fourth in points behind Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick.
“I'm able to look at what we have done and look at these two race wins and the fourth in points and say, ‘Hey, if you would have told me 10 races into the season that this is how we are were going to wrap this thing up,’ I would not have believed you,” said Edwards. “This is beyond the comeback that I expected or it's really beyond what I hoped for. This is very good, good finish to the season.”
And so now, bring on 2011.
“Heck, yeah, I wish the season was just starting,” said Edwards. “That would be nice to start the season with these two wins, but we'll go for three in a row at Daytona and that would be a heck of a place to get three in a row. We have been close at Daytona in a couple races, and that would be nice. So we'll go there with guns blazing, and I think we are going to be better than we have ever been, starting next season.”
Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEED.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100 and e-mail him at Jensen is the author of “Cheating: The Bad Things Good NASCAR Nextel Cup Racers Do In Pursuit of Speed,” and has appeared on numerous television and radio shows. Jensen is the past President of the National Motorsports Press Association and an NMPA Writer of the Year.