DOVER, Del. (September 21, 2008) – Sunday afternoon’s 400-mile race at Dover was one of ups and downs for Carl Edwards, but the driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion ended the day on a high note, waging a 30-lap battle with Roush Fenway Racing teammates Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth for the win. While Edwards would come up short in his quest for the checkered flag, he left Dover with his lead in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Standings intact.
Edwards took the green flag in the 22nd position, and in the opening laps began to improve his position. However when the No. 10 car spun at lap 12, he did so in front of Edwards, who did what he could to avoid contact but was unable to do so. Fortunately the damage sustained in the incident was cosmetic only, and the Office Depot Ford was good to continue when green flag racing resumed at lap 16.
Edwards continued to improve on his starting position, advancing to the 12th position when he reported that he was fighting a tight condition in the center of the corners at lap 22. His handling issues did little to slow his pace, as Edwards continued to make forward progress. The No. 99 showed sixth on the scoring pylon when the caution flag was displayed at lap 63 for a blown tire on the No. 78 car. Edwards followed the rest of the leaders to pit road for service under the caution period, electing to take on four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. The Office Depot crew completed their service in 12.9 seconds, allowing Edwards to line up in the fifth position for the lap 69 restart.
Once green flag racing resumed, Edwards quickly overtook the No. 24 of Jeff Gordon for the fourth position. He would hold the spot for the following green flag run, reporting that he continued to fight a tight condition in the center of the turns. When the No. 88 car spun to bring out the caution flag at lap 142, it gave Edwards and the rest of the leaders another opportunity to come to pit road for service. The Office Depot crew performed flawlessly on pit road once again, completing their service of four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment in 12.7 seconds. The fast stop gained Edwards two positions on pit road, lining him up in the second position for the lap 148 restart.
Edwards continued in the second position, remaining virtually silent on the radio as he attempted to chase down his Roush Fenway Racing teammate Matt Kenseth for the race lead. The two held their respective positions until lap 186, when the No. 77 of Sam Hornish, Jr. spun to bring out the caution flag. Edwards and Osborne discussed various pit strategies, eventually agreeing on coming to pit road for right side tires and fuel. When many of the leaders elected to stay on the racetrack and hold their position, Edwards rejoined the field in the 12th position for the lap 190 restart.
Over the course of the following green flag run, Edwards aggressively worked his way through the field. It would take 50 laps, but Edwards would inherit the race lead when Jimmie Johnson came to pit road for service. Edwards would hold the position until he had to come to pit road for a green flag pit stop, taking on four tires and fuel. Once the cycle of stops was completed, Edwards was credited with the second position.
Edwards held the second position as he and teammate Greg Biffle attempted to chase down the race leader Jimmie Johnson. The three fought for the lead with Biffle making a daring pass to overtake Johnson’s No. 48, only to see Edwards make a pass of his own at lap 321 to reassume the race lead. When the No. 42 car made heavy contact with the wall at lap 350 to bring out the caution flag, Edwards and Osborne knew they’d have one final chance to come to pit road for adjustments to take them to the finish of the race. Edwards came to pit road, where he and Osborne agreed to take on right side tires and fuel to make it to the finish. The strategy allowed them to keep the lead for the restart at lap 356.
Once the race resumed, Kenseth and Biffle took advantage of their four fresh tires to chase down Edwards for the lead. The three teammates battled back and forth in the closing 30 laps, at times making contact with each other as they attempted to put themselves in position for the win. Edwards tried valiantly to hold off their charge, but was unable to do so as both Biffle and Kenseth got by him at lap 378. Edwards was forced to settle for a third-place finish, but left Dover with his point lead intact.
“I hope you guys enjoyed it in the stands, because we enjoyed it,” said Edwards of the final 30 laps of the race. “That was fun. My hat’s off to Greg, he did a really good job. That’s the most you can run into one another and go back and forth without wrecking each other. Obviously, I wanted to win. I felt like we had a car that could win. We gambled, got two tires and that’s how it went. That was a blast. That’s the best third-place finish you could have right there. You got teammates in front, we’re still leading the points, and I got to race like I haven’t raced in a long, long time.”
Following their third-place finish at Dover, Edwards and the No. 99 team now have sole possession of the lead in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings, with a 10-point lead over teammate Greg Biffle and Jimmie Johnson. The Sprint Cup Series next races at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, September 28, 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, 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. For sponsorship inquiries, please contact Robin Johnson at 704.720.4645.