LAS VEGAS, Nev. (March 2, 2008) – For the second time in as many weeks, Carl Edwards put the No. 99 Dish Network Ford Fusion in victory lane. Edwards led the most laps in the event en route to scoring the ninth win of his NASCAR Sprint Cup career, and for the first time holds the point lead in the series standings.
Edwards took the green flag from the second position, and showed immediately that his No. 99 was strong out of the gate. Edwards held the position for the opening 20 laps before passing leader Kyle Busch and pulling out to a sizeable lead. Edwards reported that his Dish Network Fusion was tight off the corners, but it did nothing to slow his early dominating performance.
Edwards relinquished the lead at lap 49 for a green flag pit stop, taking four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment to correct the tightness on the exit of the corners. As the rest of the field followed suit down pit road, Edwards cycled back to the lead at lap 62.
When the caution flag flew again at lap 68 for debris, crew chief Bob Osborne elected to bring Edwards to pit road once again for service. Osborne made the call to take four tires and fuel, while other teams gambled on a two-tire stop. Edwards’ crew completed their service in 14.35 seconds, and returned Edwards to the track in the eighth position, the highest of the cars that completed four-tire service.
Edwards began his assault on the front runners as soon as the green flag dropped for the lap 75 restart. He picked off positions one by one, advancing to the third position at lap 102. Edwards’ progress was halted, however, when the No. 20 car suffered a tire failure and made heavy contact with the wall, bringing out the caution flag once again. Edwards followed the leaders to pit road at lap 110, taking four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. Edwards rejoined the field in the fifth position, but after a tire got away from their pit box, the Dish Network team was hit with a penalty, sending them to the tail end of the longest line for the lap 113 restart.
Edwards took the green flag in the 16th position, and worked his way to 11th before the No. 10 car spun to bring out the caution at lap 161. Osborne called Edwards to pit road to take on right side tires and fuel, opting to make no adjustments as Edwards was happy with the performance of his Ford. Quick work on pit road gained Edwards three spots, allowing him to take the green flag in the eighth position.
Edwards held onto the eighth spot before coming to pit road again for a caution flag at lap 179. Osborne elected to perform the same service as the previous stop, as both he and Edwards were pleased with the result. The Dish Network pit crew performed flawlessly once again, advancing Edwards to the third position for the restart. Edwards wasted little time picking off the two cars in front of him, putting the No. 99 back out front at lap 194.
When the caution flag was displayed at lap 213 for debris, it set the stage for the final round of pit stops. Edwards came to pit road as the leader, and anticipated a routine stop of four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. The stop seemed to go as planned, until a camera man filming the pit stop blocked the crew member responsible for catching the tire as it rolled back to the wall. The tire bounced off the wall, sending it across the racetrack and into the infield grass. Osborne and crew quickly consulted with NASCAR, pleading their case. Fortunately team video shot from overhead on pit road captured the footage, and NASCAR decided not to issue any penalties. Edwards would line up third for the restart after the situation was quickly resolved.
Edwards assumed the lead for the final time at lap 237, passing teammate Matt Kenseth. A series of late-race cautions put the race into an overtime green-white-checkered flag finish, but Edwards held on to score his second consecutive victory.
“We just had a great Dish Network Ford Fusion,” said Edwards. “I’m starting to agree with Jack [Roush, owner]. He told me this week he’s gonna start making Bob [Osborne, crew chief] wear a helmet. I asked him why, and he said because the stuff that’s going on between his two ears is really important and we need to protect it. Bob’s a smart guy and I’m just proud to be driving this race car. We do this to win. Winning these races is the greatest. Winning a championship would be the ultimate. What we’re trying to do is win the championship this year. That's our No. 1 goal.”
Following their win at Las Vegas, Edwards and the No. 99 Dish Network team assumed the lead in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings, 21 markers over second place Kyle Busch. The Sprint Cup Series races next at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 9, 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 and Joey Clanton; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.