JOLIET, Ill. (July 12, 2008) – Carl Edwards had the dominant car for much of the race at Chicagoland Speedway, but a broken splitter near took the No. 99 Office depot team out of contention in the closing stages of the race. Edwards’ Ford Fusion carried a special Office Depot paint scheme saluting 8,000 of their associates, and it appeared for much of the race that he would carry them to victory lane for the team’s fourth win of the 2008 season.
Edwards took the green flag in the fourth position after qualifying was rained out on Friday. Edwards quickly advanced to the second position, overtaking the Nos. 31 and 88 cars in the opening laps of the race. Edwards complained in the early going that his Office Depot Fusion was loose in and off the corners, but despite his handling problems the No. 99 posted some of the fastest lap times in the field. When NASCAR threw a competition caution at lap 35, the field headed to pit road for service. Edwards came to the attention of the Office Depot team, taking on four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. The team completed their service in 13.4 seconds, sending Edwards back on track in the second position for the lap 38 restart.
Once green flag racing resumed, Edwards overtook race leader Kyle Busch to assume the race lead. Seemingly as soon as Edwards put the Office Depot Ford on the point, the field was once again slowed when the caution flag was displayed for the No. 11 car stopping on the racetrack. Knowing that fresh tires were important, Edwards and crew chief Bob Osborne elected to come to pit road for right side tires and fuel. With teams using different pit strategies, Edwards rejoined the field in the eighth position for the lap 51 restart.
Edwards continued to fight a loose handling condition, but was able to advance to the sixth position. As the green flag run continued, Edwards continued his forward progress to the fourth position before green flag pit stops began. As the leaders began to come to pit road, Edwards followed suit. He gave up the third position at lap 103 to take on four tires and fuel, and once the cycle of green flag stops completed the No. 99 showed fourth on the scoring pylon.
Edwards continued to hold his position inside the top-five over the course of the next green flag run. Although the loose condition persisted, Edwards consistently turned lap times faster than the leaders. When the caution flag was displayed at lap 176 for debris, Edwards came to pit road for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. The Office Depot team completed their service in 13.3 seconds, allowing Edwards to line up in the third position for the lap 181 restart.
It took little time for Edwards to reassume the lead, overtaking the Nos. 20 and 18 cars to take over the lead at lap 203. Just as Edwards appeared to be on his way to extending his lead, he came over the radio reporting that he had a tire going down. He quickly came to pit road at lap 211 to take on four tires and fuel. The team looked over the tires taken off the car only to discover that they were all inflated, and when the television crews focused their attention on the Office Depot Ford, the team found that the splitter had broken and was dragging on the racetrack. Unfortunately for Edwards and crew, the unscheduled stop resulted in them going one lap down to the leaders in the 31st position.
Over the final 60 laps of the race the Office Depot team did what they could to make repairs to the splitter, coming to pit road several times in an effort to patch the broken center portion. The damage was done, as Edwards struggled to turn at both ends of the racetrack. Edwards was forced to settle for a disappointing 32nd-place finish.
Following their 32nd-place finish at Chicago, Edwards and the No. 99 team remain in the fourth position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings, 372 markers behind point leader Kyle Busch. The Sprint Cup Series races next at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, July 27, 2008.
About Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing is NASCAR’s largest team operating 13 motorsports teams. Five in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with drivers Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and David Ragan; four in the Nationwide Series with Kenseth, Biffle, Edwards, McMurray, Ragan, Erik Darnell and Colin Braun; and three in the Craftsman Truck Series with Darnell, Braun, Kvapil, John Wes Townley and Bobby East; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.