LONG POND — For a guy who likes to talk, Carl Edwards wants to make some more noise. Pocono Raceway could be the place.
That’s because while his season on paper looks terrific, his season behind the wheel of the No. 99 Ford hasn’t been.
“I’ve thought about that a lot,” Edwards said. “We talk about the struggles we’re having and then I think ‘Wow, we’re second in points.’ That can sometimes be a false sense of security. I’ve been a lot worse in points and been having more fun, I’ll tell you that. We’re not dominating races, leading laps and winning races, and that’s what it’s about.”
Today’s Party in the Poconos 400 presented by Walmart could make for a fun 160 laps for Edwards, who will start alongside NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader Jimme Johnson in the front row when the green flag drops at approximately 1 p.m.
Edwards has won here twice — in June 2005 and August 2008. He dominated the June 2009 race, leading 103 laps before finishing second. Except for a couple glitches, the 2.5-mile tri-oval has been one his best tracks.
Then again, that’s where the problem exists this year. Edwards’ best tracks in the past haven’t been his best tracks in 2013.
“If we can figure those things out,” Edwards said. “This track is like that. It’s a fast track; it’s an aero track. We’re just missing something at those places and it really shows up because a lot of tracks are that way now. They’re very smooth and fast and are the meat of the season.”
Not that Edwards is complaining about being second in points. It’s how he arrived at the spot that’s a bit troubling.
After a 33rd in the season-opening Daytona 500, Edwards dusted off the field at Phoenix the following week. He led a race-high 122 laps as he posted his 20th career victory. Since then, he has led just 31 laps in the next 11 races. His ability to constantly bring home solid finishes coupled with some bad luck by drivers also poking around in the top-10 in the standings are the main reasons he’s only 30 points behind Johnson.
“If you can go out every week and have the fastest car and qualify on the pole and are leading laps and racing for the win, you really don’t think about points that much,” Edwards said. “We’re hanging on that second in points and saying that’s great. But we know we can be better and don’t want to be complacent because of our fortunate position in points.
“Like (crew chief) Jimmy Fennig pointed out, if the Chase started tomorrow we would not be in a good spot. We know we have to step it up.”
Another driver feels the same way — Jeff Gordon. He was 22nd in points entering last year’s Pocono 400. He is currently in 11th, the spot he’ll start today, but has been plagued by a roller-coaster season that includes three finishes of 34th or worse.
“We go into every race trying to win,” said Gordon, who has won a record six times at Pocono including August of last year. “We’re further up the points at this point this year than we were last year and I don’t feel like we’ve had a terrific season.”