HAMPTON, Ga. — After another bitter disappointment, Carl Edwards' chances of getting back to the Chase for the championship are just about finishing.
The No. 99 car blew a piston on lap 264 in Sunday night's Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, leaving Edwards with a 36th-place finish in a race he desperately needed to win.
Now, having slipped to 14th in the standings and still without a victory this season, he'll head to Richmond next weekend knowing he must finish first to have any chance of making the playoff — and even that may not be enough.
"I don't even know what to say," a shell-shocked Edwards said. "That's so fitting for how our year has been going."
Last year, Edwards was denied his first series championship in the final race of the season, edged out by Tony Stewart on a tiebreaker.
Now, it looks as though Edwards won't even be part of the mix in this year's 10-race playoff.
"We're going to Richmond, where anything can happen," Edwards said. "Hopefully whatever happens involves us winning the race and getting in the Chase."
Clearly, he has nothing to lose in the next race.
"We're probably going to drive pretty hard," Edwards said, managing a smile. "It's going to be fun. We're just going to go up there and let it hang out, do everything we can to win and the heck with the consequences. Maybe we can do something spectacular."
But Edwards seems to have come to grips with the likely outcome of a frustrating season.
"A bad day at the races is still better than a good day at a real job," he said.