TALLADEGA, AL. (April 27, 2008) – Carl Edwards and the No. 99 Office Depot team went into Talladega with lots of momentum. They had a series leading three wins and a solid spot in the top-10 in overall points. Edwards has always looked at the 2.66-mile superspeedway as a challenge and this 500-mile wreck-fest was no different. Unfortunately, the Aaron’s 499 turned into a battle for survival for Edwards.
The wrecks and excitement started early for the No. 99 team. On lap 19 the first caution flag flew when Roush Fenway teammate Matt Kenseth hit the wall with a blown right front tire. Edwards pitted for four tires, fuel and some tape off the grill. The Office Depot team blistered off a 14.5 second pit stop and gained two track positions. Edwards resumed racing on lap 23 in the 16th position. He shuffled back and forth with the rest of the 43-car field, feeling out the track and the rest of the drivers over the next 19 laps.
Edwards’ luck changed on lap 36 when he radioed in to crew chief Robbie Reiser to advise him of a loud pounding noise coming from his right side. Reiser told Edwards to feel it out, but pit if he felt it was necessary. Edwards said he was coming in on lap 42 under green. The Office Depot team was set to change right side tires only and add fuel. The team got Edwards back out with a 6.7 second stop, but this unexpected pit stop had put Edwards one lap down.
Edwards was able to get back on the lead lap by staying out while the lead lap cars came to pit road. He green flag pitted on lap 82 and went one lap down again. He managed to get back on the lead lap one more time before he started experiencing right side tire issues again.
Edwards' blown tire brought out the second caution of the race on lap 116 when he hit the wall causing substantial right side damage and sending Edwards and the Office Depot team to the garage. The pit crew went into action and started major repairs to the right side of Edwards’ Ford Fusion. They were able to get the No. 99 car back on the track on lap 150.
Edwards managed to dodge the flurry of late race cautions, pitting five more time over the last 38 laps for right side tires hoping to prevent another blow out so he could finish the race with minimal points damage. That strategy worked as Edwards was able to finish the race in the 40th position and only dropped one spot in the overall points standings.
“We had a little bit of tire trouble at practice, and I guess we didn’t fix it well enough,” stated Edwards. “The same thing happened to Matt, it looked like. I’m just glad we didn’t take anybody else out in that deal. It’s just too bad we didn’t get that right for the race. This is a great race car, and it would’ve been great to have a good run. Not good for the points, but I appreciate all the fans coming out. Thanks to Office Depot, and hope a Ford goes to Victory Lane.”
Edwards travels to Richmond next weekend in the Office Depot Ford Fusion. Edwards and the No. 99 team only dropped one position to 10th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings, 263 markers behind points leader Jeff Burton and 53 points behind ninth place driver, Tony Stewart. The Sprint Cup Series races next under the lights on Saturday night, May 3rd at Richmond International Raceway.
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, Kvapil, Bobby East and John Wes Townley; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.