The 2016 NASCAR season will be here soon, and Athlon Sports is helping you prep for the season with a scouting report and fantasy preview for each of the top 16 drivers. The Athlon Sports 2016 Racing Preview, available on newsstands now, includes previews and stats for every driver and every track.
Carl Edwards checks in at No. 10 in our countdown. Here’s what his season could look like on the track and on your fantasy team:
“It’s surprising Edwards and crew chief Darian Grubb didn’t win more races in their year together at Joe Gibbs Racing (in 2015),” one industry insider says. “They won two, and they were big ones (the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte and the Southern 500 at Darlington), but it just never seemed like the team really got the momentum flowing the positive direction like I thought they would. They weren’t consistently fast, and a lot of times they were the slowest of the four Gibbs cars. I think a lot of people thought they’d come out of the gate at JGR winning like five or six races and being one of the fastest cars. That didn’t really happen and it makes you wonder why.”
“Carl is an old dog. He knows everything he needs to do,” a former crew chief says. “He’s a fast racecar driver and he’s with a fast team. He needs to find a crew chief that fits his style. He needs to get that sorted out. Carl is so good that it shouldn’t take even one year to get him up to speed. So right now I think he’s an old dog looking for new tricks.”
A Tale of Two Seasons: Carl Edwards scored two top-5 finishes and one win in the season’s first 18 races while adjusting to the new No. 19 team at Joe Gibbs Racing. During the last 18 races? He scored five top 5s, came within a few points of making the championship Final Four at Homestead and never finished worse than 15th.
Southern Darling: Edwards scored his first victory at Darlington last September and has six straight top-15 finishes at the Lady In Black. Add in a fourth at Kentucky, NASCAR’s other major test of the 2016 rules package, and it’s safe to say Edwards should be a top pick on your roster for intermediates.
Short Track Struggles: Edwards went the whole season without a top-5 finish at the Bristol-Martinsville-Richmond trifecta. He also hasn’t scored a top 5 at Martinsville since 2008. JGR has a great short track program, but it’ll take time.