LAS VEGAS, Nev. (March 1, 2008) – Carl Edwards had an eventful NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Las Vegas on Saturday afternoon, rebounding from mid-race troubles to take the lead in the closing laps, only to be taken out of contention before the checkered flag fell.
Edwards started ninth in his Save-A-Lot Ford Fusion, but would have little opportunity to make any moves in the early going as a series of cautions slowed the race pace dramatically, the first of which came at lap two for a multiple-car wreck. Edwards advanced slightly to the sixth position for the lap six restart, but would again find his progress slowed when another incident brought out the yellow flag again at lap 10.
Edwards reported to his crew that he was a little loose entering the turns, but he was not overly concerned with his handling problem. He held the eighth position until lap 24, when the No. 81 car brought out the third caution of the day, bringing the leaders to pit road for service. Crew chief Pierre Kuettel elected to take fuel and make a slight wedge adjustment, hoping to gain track position by limiting their time on pit road. A miscue on the stop cost the Save-A-Lot team a few extra seconds, but Edwards rejoined the field in the eighth position for the restart.
By lap 30, Edwards had worked his way into the fifth position. He slowly began to backslide through the field as he lost ground to the cars that elected to take tires on their stops. The No. 60 Ford dropped as far back as 12th before the caution flag flew at lap 43, giving the team the chance to bring Edwards to pit road for service once again. Kuettel elected to take four tires, fuel and make another wedge adjustment, but when the rest of the leaders stayed on the racetrack Edwards lost considerable track position, falling back to the 23rd position for the restart.
As quickly as the field went back to racing, Edwards was on the radio asking his crew if they had gotten all of the lug nuts tight on their stop. He reported that he was feeling a vibration, but chose to stay on the racetrack and take his chances. When the No. 32 car got into the wall bringing out the yellow flag once again, Edwards came down pit road with the rest of the leaders to take tires, fuel and make another slight wedge adjustment to correct a slightly loose handling condition. Quick work by the Save-A-Lot crew got Edwards back on track in the 12th position.
As the race continued, so did Edwards’ concern over the vibration he felt. Thinking that it might be a tire issue, Kuettel elected to bring Edwards’ No. 60 to pit road when the caution flag was displayed once again at lap 102. Quick work by the Save-A-Lot crew allowed Edwards to rejoin the field in the third position for the lap 107 restart.
Edwards quickly dropped back to the ninth position by lap 114, and reported to the crew that he was extremely loose. When the caution flag came out at lap 124, Kuettel again elected to bring Edwards to pit road to take tires, fuel and examine the car for possible problems. Edwards restarted in the 17th position, reporting that the vibration continued.
As the field settled in to a long green flag run, Edwards’ Fusion came to life. By lap 150, he had advanced the Save-A-Lot Ford to the seventh position. It took him another nine laps before he rallied to the fifth spot, and began to look like he may have a car capable of pulling off the victory. Knowing that they were going to be short on fuel to make it to the finish, Edwards and Kuettel began planning when they would come to pit road for a splash of fuel to make it to the finish. NASCAR officials reported debris in turn two, bringing out the caution flag with just 15 laps to go. The leaders hit pit road one final time, with Edwards taking right side tires and a splash of fuel to make it to the finish. The Save-A-Lot crew performed flawlessly, sending Edwards back on track in the third position behind two cars that elected to stay out.
Edwards quickly worked his way around the No. 40 car, and pulled alongside the No. 88. The two engaged in a brief battle for the lead before Edwards was tapped from behind by Mark Martin, sending the Save-A-Lot Ford up the racetrack and into the No. 88 of Brad Kesolowski. The damage sustained was enough to send Edwards to pit road three times before the race restarted. Edwards managed to hold on to the 14th position by the time the checkered flag dropped.
“It was turning out to be a heck of a race,” said Edwards. “I was having a blast. Everybody is a little disappointed we didn’t get to try to race to the end. I guess Mark (Martin) just misjudged or something there and got us. Mark and I race really well together and I’m sure it was just a mistake. I don’t know what he said about it, but it’s too bad we didn’t get to race to the end. That was just gonna be one hell of a race. I thought we could win it for Save-A-Lot today.”
Following their 14th-place finish at Las Vegas, Edwards and the No. 60 Save-A-Lot team hold the fourth position in the NASCAR Nationwide Series point standings. The Nationwide Series races next at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday, March 8, 2008.
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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.