CONCORD, N.C. (May 16, 2009) – Carl Edwards and the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion team did a little Saturday night racing in the annual Sprint All-Star Race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway - a non-points event where the best of the best race for fun, bragging rights and $1 million dollars. Edwards started 14th and ran as high as seventh in the first segment of the event, however, handling issues plagued the No. 99 and it didn’t seem as though Edwards’ Ford would be a top contender. The Aflac team worked on the No. 99 throughout the race and by the final segment had corrected the handling woes and Edwards’ Ford was running well. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough laps for the team to capitalize and Edwards finished fifth. Though the No. 99 team didn’t get the big pay day, they were able to gain valuable information for next week’s Coca-Cola 600 in Concord, N.C.
“My Aflac Fusion was not real good for the first half of the race,” said Edwards. “We found some spring rubbers that fell out during that last stop, so they stuck those back in and the thing was pretty fast and made it back up to fifth. We’ve got a great car for the 600 and I’m excited to come back and race next week. I know we learned tons of stuff. We just needed some more laps. Laps won’t be an issue in the 600 - there will be plenty.”
The 100-lap event saw seven lead changes among five drivers and concluded with a 10-lap shootout to the checkered flag. The first of the lap leaders was pole winner, Jimmie Johnson. With a car set up for the short run, Johnson led every lap of the first 50-lap segment, opening a lead of more than three seconds before a required green-flag pit stop midway through the segment. Edwards reported that his Aflac Ford was “a slight bit tight” during the first half of this segment and an air pressure adjustment was made during the competition caution pit stop on lap 26. When green flag racing resumed on lap 27, Edwards was running seventh.
On new tires after the stop, Johnson again pulled away from the field but dropped to fifth for the restart on Lap 51 when several competitors opted for two tires on during the second round of pit stops between segments. Edwards also lost track position during this segment taking on four tires as well. He started the second segment in ninth place.
Clean air proved beneficial to Kyle Busch, who took over the lead with a two-tire stop and led all 20 laps in the second segment. Edwards maintained ninth place throughout the second segment but fell to 10th position for the start segment three when he pitted between the segments while other competitors stayed on the track.
Busch remained the leader for the start of segment three, as he did not pit between segments. Halfway through the third run, Jeff Gordon took over the lead, while Edwards, stuck back in traffic was unable to make up ground and was 12th when segment three concluded on lap 90. Gordon won the third segment, leading the final 10 of 20 laps.
A 10 minute intermission was given before the start of the final 10-lap shootout. During the break, the No. 99 team serviced Edwards’ Ford with four tires and a wedge adjustment. The excitement was building as Edwards and the other drivers strapped back into their cars for the fourth and final segment.
Just after the lap 91 restart, a spin stalled the race. Since only green-flag laps counted in the final segment, the field restarted with Busch in the lead and Edwards running 11th with eight laps remaining. Roush Fenway Racing’s Matt Kenseth charged passed Busch and kept his Ford up front until the white flag waved.
Kenseth relinquished the lead to Tony Stewart on lap 99 and Stewart went on to win the Sprint All-Star Race, .971 seconds ahead of Kenseth. Edwards worked through the field and made up several positions by the race’s end to capture a fifth-place finish. Kurt Busch ran third, followed by Denny Hamlin. Mark Martin finished sixth, ahead of Kyle Busch, who finished seventh. The fan vote winner, Joey Logano was eighth. Jamie McMurray and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. completed the top 10.
“First off, congratulations to Tony and his whole team”, said Edwards. “They’ve worked real hard and it’s cool to see them succeed, but I was really cheering for Matt, though. I was back there running fifth just hoping Matt would bring it home. Our Aflac Fusion just wasn’t that great all night, but the last run we were actually pretty good passing people and moving to the front. I think we’ve got something to build on for the 600, but I’d like to know what it feels like to be over there in Victory Lane at this All-Star race sometime.”
Edwards and the No. 99 Aflac team will run the marathon of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races next on Sunday, May 24 – the Coca-Cola 600. FOX television and PRN radio affiliates will broadcast the race live beginning at 6:00 p.m. (EST).
Edwards’ All-Star Results
Laps in top 15: 100
Edwards’ 2009 Cumulative Record
Races: 11 of 36
Behind Leader: -330
Top 5s: One
Top 10s: Four
Top 15s: Five
About Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing is NASCAR’s largest team operating nine motorsports teams. Five in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with drivers Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and David Ragan; three in the Nationwide Series with Kenseth, Biffle, Edwards, McMurray, Ragan, Erik Darnell, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Colin Braun; and one in the Camping World Truck Series with Braun.
For more than 50 years, Aflac products have given policyholders the opportunity to direct cash where it is needed most when a life-interrupting medical event causes financial challenges. As the number one provider of guaranteed-renewable insurance in the United States and the number one insurance company in terms of individual insurance policies in force in Japan, Aflac insurance products provide protection to more than 40 million people worldwide. In 2009, Aflac was recognized by Ethisphere magazine as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies for the third consecutive year and was also named by the Reputation Institute as the Most Reputable Company in the Global Insurance Industry for the second consecutive year. In 2009 Fortune magazine recognized Aflac as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in America for the eleventh consecutive year. Fortune magazine also ranked Aflac No. 1 on its global list of the Most Admired Companies in the Life and Health Insurance category. Aflac appears on Hispanic Enterprise magazine's list of the 50 Best Companies for Supplier Diversity and on Black Enterprise magazine's list of the 40 Best Companies for Diversity. Aflac was also named by Forbes magazine as America's Best-Managed Company in the Insurance category. Aflac Incorporated is a Fortune 500 company listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AFL. To find out more about Aflac, visit aflac.com.