Heading into this weekend's NASCAR stop at Michigan International Speedway, preseason title favorite Carl Edwards is far from where he envisioned himself to be at this point in the season – winless and 11th in points.
While eight top-10s in 14 races on the surface seems like a solid start to the year, the problem is those numbers pale in comparison to how his two Roush Fenway Racing teammates have performed.
Both Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle has been victorious – Kenseth in the Daytona 500 and Biffle in dominant fashion at Texas – and the duo has shown the consistency which Edwards has been lacking. Kenseth is first in the points with Biffle third.
"Right now, we are kind of the slow car on the team," Edwards said.
A season after he came just one point short of winning the championship, the obvious question is whether Edwards is suffering from a bit of a hangover from 2011. However, Edwards was quick to dismiss this notion when asked Friday.
"Let me be clear, a hangover from last year does not make tires blow or Denny (Hamlin) forget where his brakes are," Edwards said. "... It is not the hangover."
Why isn't it a hangover? Because as Edwards noted, the team should be about fifth in the point standings based on performance alone. Edwards wouldn't be leading, but he he wouldn't be outside the Chase, either.
"I think the performance is not as good as it needs to be, but it isn't far off," he said. "If we get a little luck, find a little speed, we will be just fine."
Hangover or no hangover, it might be time for Edwards and the 99 team to adjust their strategy going forward to ensure they are one of the 12 teams competing for the championship come the Chase. Should Edwards go all-out for wins or play it safe and points race?
On this point, Edwards is a bit torn.
"I think it is 50/50 right now," Edwards said. "The safest thing we can do is win races. We talked about it in the garage the other day. I think that is the best move. Just go out there and win.
"If there is a shot to go win it, we need to go with the race. That is what we need to do. I think that is a safer play to do that. It is like insurance more so than to run easy and hope for points."