MARTINSVILLE, Va. (October 19, 2008) – For a driver that hasn’t had much success at Martinsville Speedway, 2008 has been a year of career firsts for Carl Edwards. The driver of the Office Depot Ford collected a ninth-place finish in the spring, and topped that on Sunday when he finished third. The finish was just what the No. 99 team needed to keep their hopes alive in the 2008 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.
Edwards took the green flag in the third position, but began sliding back as he battled a loose condition off the corners. Edwards fell to the fifth position, being overtaken by Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick. As the run continued, Edwards worked his way back around the two and began closing in on second place, but the caution flag was displayed at lap 60, slowing his progress. Edwards took the opportunity to come to pit road, taking on four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. The Office Depot team sent Edwards back on track behind the No. 48 of Jimmie Johnson, but when 12 drivers elected to stay on track the No. 99 showed in the 14th position for the lap 67 restart.
As soon as green flag racing resumed, Edwards continued his march towards the front of the field. At lap 99, Edwards broke inside the top five again, overtaking the No. 5 car of Casey Mears. At lap 108, Edwards overtook the No. 12 of Ryan Newman and the No. 88 of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to retake the third position. Teammate Matt Kenseth spun at lap 114, bringing out the caution flag. Edwards and crew chief Bob Osborne agreed to come to pit road, taking on four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. With teams executing various strategies on pit road, Edwards lined up in the 10th position for the restart at lap 121.
Edwards was silent over the radio early in the run, picking up positions he lost on pit road. The No. 99 was in the fifth position by the time the caution flag was displayed at lap 161 when multiple cars experienced right front tire failures. Edwards followed the rest of the leaders down pit road to the attention of the Office Depot crew, who performed routine service of four tires and fuel. Quick work on pit road allowed Edwards to rejoin the field in the fifth spot for the lap 169 restart.
Edwards continued to hold his own over the course of the next green flag run, racing with Roush Fenway Racing teammate Jamie McMurray for the fourth position. Edwards continued his progress, overtaking the cars of Bobby Labonte and Jeff Gordon for the second position. The caution flag was displayed at lap 382 for debris on the racetrack after Kurt Busch experienced a right front tire failure. Edwards came to pit road to take on four tires and fuel, making no changes to the chassis as he was happy with the handling of the Office Depot Fusion. Edwards lined up in the second position for the lap 388 restart.
Edwards continued in the second position over the course of the ensuing green flag run until Dale Earnhardt Jr. overtook him for the spot at lap 414. When the No. 41 car of Reed Sorenson spun at lap 457, NASCAR threw the caution flag, allowing the leaders to come to pit road one final time. Edwards and Osborne agreed to take on four tires and fuel to set them up for the run to the checkered flag.
The No. 99 car lined up in the fourth position for the restart at lap 461, and quickly overtook teammate Matt Kenseth for the third position. Edwards battled Earnhardt Jr. for the second position, but in the closing laps could not overtake him for the spot.
“For us, this is almost a win,” said Edwards. “We’ve never run this well here, so that was good for us. It’s just Jimmie is doing an unbelievable job. We obviously had some misfortune last week that really made this race important. I felt like we could come here and if we ran like we did today, that it keeps our hopes alive and if we didn’t, it would really put us in a hole, so it’s a great day for us. After practice yesterday, we thought, ‘Man, if everything goes perfectly, we could win this race.’ Our Office Depot Ford was fast enough, but Bob and I actually talked about it. I said, ‘Boy, it would be awesome to win this thing,’ and he said, ‘Listen bud, if you can just finish in the top 10 and not lose too many points at Martinsville, that’s a win for us.’ So being realistic, this really was a very successful day for us.”
Following their third-place finish at Martinsville, Edwards and the No. 99 team continue to hold the fourth position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings. The Sprint Cup Series races next at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, October 26, 2008.
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 and John Wes Townley; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.