DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (Feb. 17, 2008) – The 50th running of the Daytona 500 will be remembered as one of the most exciting of all time. From the star-studded pre-race show that also included a roaring flyover from the Air Force Thunderbirds; to the 42 lead changes among 16 drivers – this Great American Race will go down as one of the best.
Carl Edwards and the No. 99 Office Depot team had high hopes heading into the season opening Daytona 500. After posting consecutive top-five finishes in both the Budweiser Shootout and Gatorade Duels, Edwards and crew chief Bob Osborne looked to continue their success at Daytona International Speedway in 2008. However, for Edwards and the No. 99 Office Depot team, the inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race would not end up they way they were hoping. What started off as a promising day for the No. 99 team, that included 95 laps in the top 15 and four of the event’s fastest laps, concluded with a mid-race incident that caused lingering damage to the Office Depot Ford and a long-fought, late-race battle to finish 19th.
On a warm, sunny Florida afternoon, front-row starters Jimmie Johnson and Michael Waltrip led the 43-car field to the green flag just after 3:30 p.m. (ET). Edwards, in the No. Office Depot Ford, rolled off 11th and settled in for the 200-lap event.
Early in the race, Edwards reported that his Office Depot Ford was experiencing “tight” handling conditions. Though the No. 99 was not operating to Edwards’ liking, he managed to maintain a top-10 running position until his first pit stop under green on lap 35. During this stop, Osborne directed the Office Depot crew to make a wedge adjustment and service the No. 99 with four tires and fuel. Edwards returned to the track and when the field cycled through green flag stops, he was scored in 10th place.
Edwards again settled in on the track and cruised around in seventh place for another 35 laps. Without a caution, green flag pit stops again began. Edwards brought the No. 99 down pit road on lap 74 and the crew gave him four fresh Goodyear tires and an air pressure adjustment. The entire field circled through and when everything cycled out on lap 78, Edwards was shown in eighth place. Reporting that the Office Depot Ford was “better,” Edwards continued to log laps around Daytona International Speedway.
The first caution flag of the day fell on lap 79 for debris on the track. Most of the field, including Edwards pitted with the leaders. Since only five laps were registered prior to this stop, Osborne called for two tires, an air pressure adjustment and a splash of fuel only. Green flag racing commenced on lap 84 and Edwards was still in eighth place.
On lap 102, just passed the half-way mark, the No. 43 cut down into Edwards’ lane on the race track, making contact with the left rear quarter panel of the Office Depot Ford. Though Edwards was able to avoid a crash, significant body damage was incurred and Edwards quickly began losing valuable track positions – falling from eighth on lap 84 to 31st on lap 112 and ultimately 34th on lap 117 when he was finally able to pit.
Under green flag conditions, Edwards brought the No. 99 down pit road on lap 117. A quick stop for wedge and air pressure adjustments, along with four tires and fuel were all that time permitted. Since the field was still under green, there was no time to repair the damages sustained on the lap 102 incident. Edwards would continue to nurse the No. 99 around the track until lap 150 when a caution fell allowing more time for the Office Depot crew to repair the wounded racecar.
The green flag waved again on lap 155 and Edwards was running 32nd. Though he would gain a spot here and there, he would lack the drafting help needed to break into the lead pack. With just 20 laps remaining in competition, Edwards was scored in 26th place. He avoided the race’s final three cautions and managed to finish 19th.
Before a sell-out crowd of nearly 200,000 Ryan Newman won the 50th Daytona 500. Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch and Reed Sorenson followed to round out the top five.
Up next for Edwards and the No. 99 crew is the Auto Club 500 at the California Speedway. FOX television and MRN radio affiliates will carry the live broadcast beginning at 4:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, February 24.
Carl Edwards Daytona 500 Quote:
“We were really pretty good and just got shuffled back at the end. And we had a deal where we got caught up with the 77 car and slowed us way down. We had a competitive car, and it could’ve definitely been a top-10. We just did the best we could.”
About Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing operates 13 full-time motorsports teams, five in NASCAR Sprint Cup 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; three in the Craftsman Truck Series with Darnell, Braun and Joey Clanton; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.