HAMPTON, Ga. (March 8, 2009) – Carl Edwards and the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion team traveled to the Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend for the Kobalt Tools 500. At a track where Edwards has enjoyed much success, included three victories, the Aflac team was optimistic heading into Sunday’s race. Though the No. 99 team brought home a third-place finish, the weekend was far from trouble free.
Edwards started today’s 330-lap (extended by five laps due to a green-white-checker finish) from a disappointing 29th position, but by lap 40 had made his way up to fourth place. Reporting that his Fusion was “free”, Edwards and crew chief Bob Osborne began formulating a plan to remedy the handling problems. On lap 66 a green flag pit stop was planned, however an ill-timed safety caution was thrown as Edwards made his way down pit road when a crew member ran after a tire out in the track's tri-oval area. Though Edwards was on pit road, he did not stop, and made his way back onto the track. He fortunately avoided losing a lap during this debacle and was one of only six cars on the lead lap on lap 73 when racing resumed.
Running fourth, Edwards picked off the competition one-by-one and took over the lead. Though his Ford seemed to be flying around the 1.5-mile track, Edwards reported that the No. 99 was “free in and loose on the gas”. A lap 102 yellow flag allowed Edwards to make his way to pit road for more adjustments. This time Osborne called for wedge and air pressure tweaking in hopes of fixing the handling issues. Despite a speedy pit stop, Edwards was beaten off pit road by Kurt Busch and restarted the race in second position.
Edwards maintained the runner-up position until just past the half-way point of the race when he fell back to fifth place after an extend pit stop. Still Edwards managed to climb back up to third before his next scheduled pit stop on lap 184. Another lengthy stop cost Edwards valuable time and track position and forced him back to eighth place on lap 190.
Edwards would see pit road on three more occasions from lap 205 to lap 259 – all scheduled, none flawless. Each time Edwards entered the pits, he was boxed in by competitors in front and behind, thus making maneuvering difficult for his Aflac pit crew. Despite their best efforts, the crew cost Edwards track position on each stop. Nonetheless, Edwards overcame the setbacks and was scored in fourth place when the race’s final caution fell on lap 321.
Pit or stay out was the question on Osborne’s mind. Pit and risk a poor stop and loss of track position. Stay out and risk being passed by all the racers on fresher tires. Osborne compromised and Edwards pitted for just two tires – unheard of at Atlanta. The gamble seemed to pay off as Edwards restarted the race as the leader; however he was passed by Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon on the closing lap and took the checkers in third place.
“We just had two tires because we had a bad pit stall there,” said Edwards.” We were gonna be blocked in – the 24 and the 88 – I think we were the only three guys together, so we took two tires and did our best. I’m just real proud of the whole Aflac gang for making it run as fast as it did. It’s good to be in a Ford here at Atlanta, we just couldn’t pull it off.”
Following Atlanta Jeff Gordon leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings with 634 points. Clint Bowyer (591) is in second followed by race winner Kurt Busch (588). Carl Edwards (547), Matt Kenseth (546), Tony Stewart (521), Kyle Busch (514), Kevin Harvick (511), Kasey Kahne (484), Greg Biffle (480), Brian Vickers (477), and David Reutimann (475) round out the top-12.
Edwards and the No. 99 Aflac team will enjoy the coming weekend off, but will return to racing action at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 22. FOX television and PRN radio affiliates will carry the live race broadcast.
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. Aflac is 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. Our insurance products provide protection to more than 40 million people worldwide. Aflac has been included in Fortune magazine's listing of America's Most Admired Companies for seven consecutive years and in Fortune magazine's list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in America for eleven consecutive years.
Aflac has also been recognized three times by both Fortune magazine's listing of the Top 50 Employers for Minorities and Working Mother magazine's listing of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers. 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.
Edwards’ Atlanta Results
Fastest Laps: 22
Laps in top 15: 311
Edwards’ 2009 Cumulative Record
Races: 4 of 36
Behind Leader: -87
Top 5s: One
Top 10s: Two
Top 15s: Two