NAPERVILLE, Illinois -- With just three races left until the 12-driver lineup for NASCAR's Chase is set,
Gordon, Hamlin, Stewart, Johnson,
Out of that group, the driver on the move is Edwards, whose third-place finish at Michigan continues his summer hot streak.
Up to sixth in the standings, Edwards could easily surpass Johnson for the No. 5 spot in the standings heading to Bristol for Saturday night's 500-lap short track showdown in the East Tennessee hills.
Despite being winless this season, Edwards has already had quite a season but for all the wrong reasons. His feud with
Although Edwards was allowed to keep the victory, his actions put him on probation by NASCAR officials for the rest of the season.
Despite the negativity, Edwards' positive momentum has continued and at 266 points ahead of 13th place
"That makes me feel real good," Edwards admitted. "I had no clue we were that far ahead now. So what do we have left? I believe it is Bristol, Atlanta and Richmond. If we can get through Bristol and be 200 points ahead of 13th, then we just go for broke. I think of it as 100 points per race is what you need. If we were 300 right now, we would really go for it at Bristol."
Edwards had gotten into this position by putting an emphasis on qualifying. Starting up front has allowed Edwards to finish in the top-10 during his recent resurgence. Poor qualifying performances often put this driver back in the field where he was prone to get involved in needless crashes with other drivers mired in midpack.
Although he started a disappointing 24th at Michigan, Edwards was able to overcome that handicap.
"Today our pit selection and starting spot hurt us and that is all based on qualifying" Edwards said. "We have started to work on it more. It is not something we can just all of a sudden be super good at though. It is something we are building. I hope we can get it good in the next eight or 10 races and do a better job of it."
Edwards led a three-position sweep for team owner
"It is great," Edwards said. "We really wanted to get a win for him today. That is a strong performance for us and for Ford. It meant a lot to perform that well for him."
If Edwards can continue his recent surge over the final three races leading into the Chase it won't be long before he is placed in the category of potential favorites, but don't think he's ready to pick a winner just yet.
"I don't think that going into the Chase that there is a favorite," Edwards said. "I think that if we can continue gaining like we have been, we will be right there. You can't count the Hendrick bunch out. It is going to be a heck of a battle."
Every NASCAR driver in the field is a hero to legions of racing fans, but who are the heroes to the drivers? Some may be famous, most are from the racing world and some are the men who sat across from the table at dinner every night.
Let's take a look at six of the top NASCAR drivers in the race and look at their heroes.
"I think my favorite memory of watching Jeff Gordon as a fan growing up was the T-Rex car. Being a Jeff Gordon fan and watching him dominate that night and pretty much taking everybody to school was something I remember. I guess that car probably took everybody to school more than he did. It was fun to be a Gordon fan that day."
"The best thing that can happen, really, in any conversation that's going south is somebody has to be the bigger man and bite their tongue and that's normally (crew chief) Lance (McGrew). I have a hard time biting my tongue and always want the last word and all that good stuff. And I'm in a 120-degree hot car and at the moment I feel like I'm doing the majority of the work. And right or wrong, I'm just saying that's how you feel, whether it's right or wrong. You don't want to hear no crap and you don't want to take no crap. I think that me and Lance actually do pretty good and I think the more we work together, the better we get at it. We've really run pretty rough in the last little stretch here and we've survived it; our working relationship has survived it." --
While NASCAR heads to Bristol for what is probably the most popular race on the schedule -- the Saturday night race in Thunder Valley -- the IZOD IndyCar Series continues its points race at the final road course of the season at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma. And while there may be more on-track action in NASCAR's short track showdown, a trip to the San Francisco Bay area is pretty tough to beat for the IndyCar Series.