FONTANA, CA. (August 31, 2008) – Carl Edwards and the No. 99 Aflac team went into sunny southern California with a lot of confidence after winning the past two Sprint Cup races and were focused on winning a third race in a row. The Aflac Ford ran at the top of the charts during practice, but due to a super loose condition, had a disappointing qualifying run. Edwards qualified 26th and had to race his way into the top-10 and the top-5, eventually running as high as 2nd. He finished in 6th for his 19th top-10 of the season.
Following an enthusiastic starting command by his honorary crew member Drew Carey, Edwards fired his engines under a clear blue sunny sky to begin another long 500 mile race that would end later that night under the lights at the 2-mile oval Auto Club Speedway. Edwards immediately started his charge to the front and consistently gained one position after another. He did not pit during the first caution, brought out by teammate Jamie McMurray who had cut down a front tire on lap 4.
Edwards made his first pit stop of the race on lap 24 for tires, fuel, and air pressure adjustments in a speedy 13.9 seconds. When green flag pit stops had cycled through he was shown in 19th on lap 26. The adjustments improved the car’s handling well enough that Edwards was knocking on the door of the top-10 by lap 40.
The second pit stop for the Aflac team was during a caution on lap 43. They blistered off a 12.97 second stop changing four tires, adding fuel and making air pressure adjustments. Edwards was in the top-10 when he left pit road. The Aflac team continued to make the necessary adjustments to the car all evening to keep up with the changing track conditions as the sun went down. Edwards had moved into the 7th position by lap 64 when he radioed into his crew chief Bob Osbourne that his car was too loose.
He had to drive it that way until they were able to pit again on lap 73 for a wedge adjustment, tires and fuel. The crew pulled off their fastest full-service pit stop of the race in only 12.56 seconds, gaining Edwards three positions on the track. He was shown in the 6th position when green flag racing resumed and on lap 78 he broke into the top-5.
Edwards was driving through the many grooves on the track, trying to determine where his car would handle best. He started dropping back on lap 88 and had fallen back to 12th on lap 100. Edwards brought his Aflac Ford in for another pit stop on lap 110 for two rounds down on the track bar, tires and fuel in another super fast 12.75 second stop. He radioed in to his crew that the car was starting to come to him and he was back in the top-10 by lap 123.
While the fans were watching an exciting race, the drivers were watching a blinding, but beautiful sunset. Edwards was very happy with the handling of his car at this point and maintained a position in the top-10 for the remainder of the race. On lap 145 he came in for tires, fuel and a slight air pressure adjustment in a 12.83 second stop that neither gained nor lost any track positions for him. He was scored in the 7th position when the race went green again.
Edwards pitted again on lap 162 and this time the Aflac team gambled on a two tire stop to try to gain some track position. So did his teammate Greg Biffle who became the leader by winning the race off of pit road. Edwards followed in a very close 2nd. They both got passed by Jimmy Johnson whose team had opted for four tires and Edwards was dropped back to the 3rd spot.
Edwards pitted under green on lap 185 for four tires, fuel and a round down on the track bar. The crew completed the stop in 13.7 seconds and got Edwards back out on the track, still in the 3rd position where he stayed until lap 195.
On lap 218 Edwards pitted during the final caution of the race for a wedge adjustment, tires and fuel. He came down pit road in 4th and reentered the race in 4th. The race went green to the end. He had dropped back to 6th with only 24 laps remaining and that is where he was when the checkered flag flew.
“We ran alright,” stated Edwards. “It’s great to be disappointed with sixth place. That’s wonderful, but we really wanted three in a row. But we can go win the next three in a row, too. Sixth place is definitely not a win, but it’s not running terrible. My Aflac team was great in the pits. I think when the track changed, we weren’t quite on top of how our car was gonna handle in the dark. Sometimes you hit it and sometimes you miss it. We just missed it tonight and were just too loose.”
Edwards travels to Richmond next weekend in the Office Depot Ford Fusion. Edwards and the No. 99 team maintained the second position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings, behind points leader Kyle Busch. The Sprint Cup Series races next on Saturday, September 6th 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. For more information on any of the Roush Fenway Racing teams, log onto www.RoushFenway.com.