CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Carl Edwards heads to Texas Motor Speedway last in the playoff standings, which does not show how well he has run in this year’s Chase.
Edwards was with the leaders last weekend at Martinsville Speedway when a tire problem caused him to crash into the wall during the opening race of the third round of NASCAR’s playoffs. Now he’s 32 points below the cutline to advance to the final four championship race Nov. 20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
He can salvage his chances with a victory in either of the next two races, starting Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.
“We know what we have to do and we feel like we can do it,” he said.
Edwards is part of the four-car Joe Gibbs Racing contingent that made it into the round of eight of the playoffs. But when Jimmie Johnson won last weekend at Martinsville, it meant JGR can’t get all four of its drivers into the championship race.
In some regards, it took the prospect of points racing off the agenda for Edwards at Texas.
“We had a great run going there at Martinsville and obviously that was a huge disappointment, but it really makes things pretty simple this weekend,” Edwards said.
In 23 Sprint Cup Series starts at Texas, Edwards has led 655 laps and has three victories. He also has seven top-five and 12 top-10 finishes. Edwards also won a pair of Xfinity races at Texas in 2010 and 2011.
Crew chief Dave Rogers believes Edwards can pull off another win at Texas, or win next week at Phoenix.
“It’s tough to name two better racetracks for us to be in (this) situation,” Rogers said. “Texas offers a lot of character with bumps and an abrasive surface and Goodyear will be bringing a tire that wears out and falls off. That combination always yields an exciting race for our fans and plays into the strengths of Carl and this race team.”
Richard Childress Racing will make a crew chief change for Paul Menard at the end of the season. Matt Borland will take over the pit box of Menard’s No. 27 team. He’ll replace interim crew chief Danny Stockman, who will return to the Xfinity Series program at RCR.
Borland is an engineer and former crew chief with more than 20 years of experience. He was vice president of technology for Stewart-Haas Racing and oversaw the NASCAR and Formula 1 operations. Borland had been with SHR in various roles since 2009.
As a crew chief, he won 13 races with Ryan Newman, who now drives for RCR.
Roush Fenway Racing reached a three-year contract agreement for AdvoCare to continue sponsoring the No. 6 Ford for Trevor Bayne. AdvoCare has been with RFR and Bayne since 2014. Bayne won the 2011 Daytona 500 in just his second career start. He’s currently 22nd in the Sprint Cup standings, up from 29th in last year’s first full season. Bayne was under contract with RFR for next season, and AdvoCare guarantees he’ll have races sponsored through 2019.
John Wes Townley will miss Friday night’s Truck Series race because of an ankle injury not related to racing. Cody Coughlin will replace Townley at Texas Motor Speedway because Townley injured his ankle.
Coughlin has started nine Truck races this year, and his best finish was 12th at Texas in June. It will be the third race Townley has missed this year; he sat out two races in July with a concussion.
“I like Texas a lot,” Coughlin said. “I had a lot of speed when I ran the truck race there this summer. I feel like I can really get around that place.”