Carl Edwards had always looked something of an outside bet to make it into final round of the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, but even so it was disappointing to see the Roush Fenway Racing driver exit the title battle with something of a whimper rather than a bang.
Edwards had been struggling for pace all weekend long at Phoenix International Raceway, so much so that his 13th place on qualifying on Friday ended up being something of a high point. When it came to race day, however there was to be no reprieve and he ended up crossing the line in 15th place behind all seven of his Chase rivals.
"We tried every trick that we could," he sighed after the race. "We just didn't have a lot of speed all weekend. The car actually drove pretty decently at the end, so I thought [crew chief] Jimmy [Fennig] did a great job with it. We just didn't have enough speed, so that's how it goes."
With Brad Keselowski also being eliminated from the Chase, it means the sold representative from the Ford manufacturers camp left with a shot at clinching this year's title is Penske's Joey Logano.
"Hopefully, Joey can get the win and bring Ford a championship," said Edwards, who is leaving RFR at the end of the season to join the Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota's flagship team in the Sprint Cup Series.
In the meantime, Edwards was full of praise for everything that his current team had done this year to put him within touching distance of winning the title.
"These guys dug deep and worked hard," he said. "I've never been a part of something like this where everybody just doesn't give up. This means the world.
"I'm really proud of everybody," he added. " We had some runs that we shouldn't have had. We made it awfully far, so I'm very proud of everybody."
Although Edwards is no longer eligible to win the championship, he'll still be out on track next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the season finale. As a two-time winner at the 1.5-mile intermediate track in 2008 and 2010, he has every chance of closing out his ten-year tenure with Jack Roush's team with one last hurrah.
"We'll just go to Homestead and try to get another win," he confirmed.
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