RICHMOND, Va. (September 7, 2008) – Carl Edwards battled adversity to bring home a 13th-place finish at Richmond International Raceway on Sunday afternoon. Edwards had one of the fastest cars on the racetrack, but a cut tire and late-race incident mired the driver of the Office Depot Ford back in traffic, unable to overcome the odds stacked against him.
Tropical Storm Hannah wreaked havoc with the race weekend, beginning with Friday evening’s qualifying session. Just before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars were to begin their time trials, heavy rains soaked the racetrack and forced NASCAR officials to call off the evening’s activities. With the forecast looking grim for Saturday, NASCAR set the field by 2008 owner’s points and delayed the start of the race until Sunday afternoon.
Edwards took the green flag in the second position, but quickly began to backslide through the pack. Edwards reported at lap eight that he was fighting a loose in, loose off condition and it showed as he dropped to the eighth position. Edwards continued to fall back to the tenth position before he caught a break at lap 35 when NASCAR threw a competition caution. The opportunity to come to pit road was a welcome one, as Edwards followed the rest of the leaders down pit road for service. Edwards came to the attention of the Office Depot team to take on four tires, fuel, an air pressure and wedge adjustment. Quick work gained Edwards five positions on pit road, allowing him to line up in the fifth position for the lap 42 restart.
Edwards reported in the early going of the run that the balance of his racecar was better, but he continued to struggle with the handling conditions. As the laps clicked off, Edwards feared that he may have a tire going down. Crew chief Bob Osborne called Edwards to pit road at lap 74 to take on right side tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. The stop proved necessary when the right rear tire was indeed flat, but the green flag stop trapped Edwards one lap down to the race leader.
As the race continued, Edwards engaged in a race with the other cars one lap down. Edwards did what he could to put himself in position to be awarded the Lucky Dog free pass, and his hard work paid off at lap 201 when the caution flag was displayed for an incident involving the No. 77 car. Edwards was awarded the free pass to get back on the lead lap, and assumed the 30th position for the restart at lap 208.
Mired back in traffic, Edwards continued to struggle with the handling of the Office Depot Ford. Edwards reported that his Ford Fusion felt much better on the short runs, but he needed additional adjustments to help for the long runs. It seemed that every time Edwards would gain some ground, he would just as quickly lose the forward progress made. Osborne and Edwards each made suggestions for adjustments on pit stops, and the duo continued to make adjustments on pit road as the race went on.
Just as things appeared to be turning the corner for Edwards, a multi-car incident unfolded in front of him at lap 314 that would prove unavoidable. The Nos. 43 and 21 cars got together, and when Edwards attempted to work his way through the melee, the No. 21 car shot back up in front of Edwards, resulting in heavy right side damage to the Office Depot Ford. Edwards came to pit road twice under the ensuing caution period to take on four tires and repair damage.
Edwards restarted in the 31st position at lap 320, and over the final 80 laps of the event used pit strategy and made strong passes to work his way to the 13th position when the checkered flag dropped to conclude the 400-lap event.
With the point standings being re-set following the conclusion of the 26-race stretch that makes up NASCAR’s “regular season”, Edwards and the No. 99 Office Depot team will start The Chase in the second position, behind point leader Kyle Busch.
The Sprint Cup Series next races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, September 14, 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.