Matt Kenseth is now 36pts off Edwards and Jimmie Johnson has closed slightly to just 43pts away from the leader, but neither can have much hope of being in with a shot for the title now. Everyone else - Kyle and Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman - is more than 50pts off Edwards and are surely done for 2011.
The next Chase race is at Texas on November 6, after which follows Phoenix on November 13 and finally the season finale at Homestead-Miami on November 21: in just three weeks' time, the winner of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship will most certainly be crowned.
But Edwards knew that he'd dodged a bullet this week, and having survived he was now optimistic about what lay in front.
"This track [Martinsville] has just been really, really tough for me, so I think this is one of those days where everything went wrong and everything went right as well. And fortunately, the timing of all those things worked out," he said. "We'll see what happens at Texas. I feel like we're going to go there and we're going to have as good a shot to win as anyone ... We'll have fun. We'll go race hard. They're going to have to race us, too. I'm excited about the next three races!"
Full race results and positions
Full Sprint Cup standings