- Associated Press - Saturday, March 10, 2012

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Asked about not winning a race in a year, Carl Edwards had a quick correction.

“I did win the All-Star race, so that’s something,” he said.

True, Edwards did win the All-Star race in May, pretty handily. Earned $1 million for it, too.

The problem with that victory was that it didn’t count in the season standings. To find a race that earned him points, Edwards has to go back to last March, when he kicked off his championship chase with a win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“It doesn’t feel like that to me,” Edwards said. “I guess it’s reality, but we go out every week and race as hard as we can and there were many races last year that we very well could have won if things would have gone slightly different. We obviously ran very well.”

That’s for sure.

Despite winning the one race, Edwards tied Stewart for the championship, doing it on the strength of a series-high 19 top-five finishes and 26 in the top 10.

But not winning more ended up costing Edwards: Stewart earned his third Sprint Cup title on a tiebreaker with five wins to Edwards‘ one.

Disappointing? Sure, but Edwards knows his car was strong all season, even if it only crossed the checkers first one time that counted.

“The way this sport works is if you run that well, you’ll win your fair share of races,” he said. “Any week would be a good week to go ahead and win another one, so this would be just fine.”

Edwards opened this season with a strong run at the Daytona 500, starting on the pole and finishing eighth. He was on his way to another good finish at Phoenix last week, but drifted back to 17th after he ran out of fuel and had to coast across the finish line.

“We ran out of fuel and we didn’t expect to run out of fuel when we did,” Edwards said. “We miscalculated a little bit, which we pride ourselves on having great fuel mileage and being able to manage that fuel mileage so that we can make it to the end of the race, so it was disappointing for us. But I think a lot of people were surprised.”

Stewart was caught a little off-guard last year at Las Vegas.

He had the strongest car all day, but had to change pit strategy after being penalized leaving his pit stall with an air hose still attached to his car. Wanting to get their car back to the front, then-crew chief Darian Grubb called for Stewart to take just two tires on a pit stop.

The plan worked, but the rest of the field saw that it did and used a similar tactic, putting Stewart in a corner. He later had to take four tires when nearly everyone else took two and shuffled back in the field because of the extra time. He dropped to 22nd after the stop and charged back, but came up just short, finishing second.

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