CUP: Closing Weeks Provided Boost For Edwards has selected NASCAR’s top 10 drivers — across the three major national series — in 2010 and will spotlight them for two weeks. Today: Driver No. 6 – Sprint Cup Series fourth-place driver Carl Edwards.

Carl Edwards did double duty again in 2010, running the full Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series schedules and turning in strong performances in each.

He finished fourth — the first Ford driver — in the Sprint Cup final standings and climaxed the year in fine style, winning the closing two races at Phoenix International Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway.

In Nationwide, Edwards continued his torrid battles with Brad Keselowski but couldn’t catch Keselowski in the run for the championship. Keselowski finished 445 points in front of Edwards to score his first Nationwide championship.

Edwards finished the Nationwide season with four wins, three poles and 27 top 10s in 35 events.

Although Edwards rolled home fourth in the final Sprint Cup standings, the season was a struggle. Ford teams wrestled with the handling of their cars for much of the year, and it was Aug. 1 before Greg Biffle, Edwards’ teammate, put the Blue Oval in victory lane for the first time.

The first half of Edwards’ season was far from spectacular. He had only six top 10s — and only one top five — in the first 17 races, and he watched as his winless streak continued. It ultimately would reach 70 races, a huge total for a superstar driver and championship contender.

The Ford program began coming together in mid-year, however, reaching a turning point of sorts at Chicagoland Speedway in the season’s 19th race as Edwards, Biffle and Kasey Kahne all had strong outings. Two races later, Biffle won at Pocono.

Edwards’ performance picked up considerably as summer started. Over a stretch of 12 races, he had 10 top 10s.

The Cup drought finally ended at Phoenix as Edwards led 93 laps on the way to a four-second win. Providing prime illustration that Phoenix was no fluke, he won the next week in the season finale at Homestead.

Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for 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.