- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 2, 2008

FORT WORTH, Texas | Carl Edwards looks at the last three NASCAR Sprint Cup races of 2008 and sees nothing but opportunity.

Sure, the series runner-up trails leader Jimmie Johnson by a daunting 183 points. And with Johnson needing only to finish ninth or better in the remaining events to win his third consecutive Cup title, it probably isn’t a good omen for Edwards that Johnson has finished ninth or better in each of the seven Chase for the championship races so far this year - or that Johnson is the defending winner of Sunday’s Dickies 500.

There is also the fact that the biggest comeback over the final three races since the current points system began in 1975 came in 1990 when Dale Earnhardt overcame a 49-point deficit.

Never mind the overwhelming odds. Edwards, coming off a win at Atlanta, likes to think it’s Johnson who is under the gun heading into the race at Texas Motor Speedway.

“I’m sure there’s pressure on him,” Edwards said. “I’ve been in a couple of championship battles; the ones that I remember the most were the ones at my local dirt track and stuff. It wears on you and it’s easier to come from behind, that’s for sure.

“Anytime you’ve got a lead and it’s shrinking, that’s real nerve-racking. Just mentally we have an advantage because it is so much easier to do it that way, I think.”

Besides Edwards, the only drivers with a legitimate chance to catch Johnson are third-place Greg Biffle, 185 points behind, and fourth-place Jeff Burton, 218 points out of the lead.

Biffle is also trying hard to stay positive.

“Definitely the wheels can fall off that [No. 48 car] in a hurry,” Biffle said. “We’ve seen it happen and maybe you get comfortable and kind of relaxed and stuff jumps out and bites you. That can happen. Absolutely.

“After Phoenix [next week], if he’s got enough margin to clinch the title, then we will walk away with our tail between our legs. But until then, we’re not going to.”

Burton, while not ready to concede the title to Johnson, is more of a realist.

“I’m sure that Jimmie will be in mode to not do anything stupid,” Burton said. “He doesn’t have to force the issue.”

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