LONG POND, Penn. (August 3, 2008) – Carl Edwards picked up his fourth victory of the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Pocono Raceway on Sunday afternoon. Edwards overcame a late-race gamble to pit when weather became an issue to pick up his second career victory at the triangular track in the Pocono Mountains.
Edwards took the green flag in the 15th position, and held the position for the opening laps of the event. When NASCAR elected to throw a competition caution at lap 20 for teams to check their tire wear, Edwards followed the race leaders down pit road and to the attention of the Office Depot team. Crew chief Bob Osborne elected to take on four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment to loosen up the No. 99 Ford. Edwards rejoined the field in the 20th position when varying pit strategies allowed cars that took on right side tires only to gain track position coming to the lap 24 restart.
Over the course of the following run, Edwards continued to complain about a tight handling condition. Despite his problems, Edwards was able to advance to the sixth position before green flag pit stops began at lap 51. Osborne left Edwards on track until lap 54, when the No. 99 was scored as the leader of the race. Once he collected the five bonus points given for leading a lap, Edwards came to pit road to take on four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. Quick work by the Office Depot team allowed Edwards to rejoin the field in the eighth position. Just as he began to work his way back towards the front of the field, the caution flag was displayed at lap 65 for debris. Osborne elected to bring Edwards to pit road once again, this time only taking on right side tires in an attempt to gain track position. The move paid off as Edwards picked up the lead when he exited pit road.
Once Edwards took the green flag at lap 70, he set sail from the field and began to record the fastest lap times of the race. Edwards’ lead was eliminated at lap 87 when the yellow flag was displayed for debris on the racetrack. Edwards and Osborne agreed to come to pit road to take on four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment to fine-tune the handling of the Office Depot Ford. The crew performed their stop in 13.3 seconds, allowing Edwards to rejoin the field in the sixth position for the lap 92 restart.
Once green flag racing resumed, Edwards quickly worked his way back to the front of the field. The No. 99 Ford overtook the No. 48 of Jimmie Johnson at lap 111 to reassume the lead. Shortly after Edwards began to pull out to a commanding lead, green flag pit stops became the order of business once again. Edwards gave up the lead at lap 119 to take on four tires and fuel, and would be scored the leader once again when the cycle of stops completed.
With rain showers beginning to appear at turn two, NASCAR threw the caution flag for rain at lap 126. As the field continued under the yellow flag, Edwards and Osborne began to discuss strategy. Edwards allowed Osborne to make the call to come to pit road or to stay out, and when he elected to take on right side tires, Edwards placed his trust in the decision. Edwards went from leading the event to the 22nd position, and suddenly the driver began to second guess his crew chief.
As Edwards waited out the rain, he went to the pit box to discuss the decision to pit. “Bob and I were really arguing,” said Edwards. “I’m trying to make a little light of it, but we thought we’d made the wrong call. The argument came when it started raining real hard, then we were trying to blame one another for the idea of coming. He said it was my idea and I really felt like it was his idea, so that’s where the argument came. I had to leave the pit box because I was worried Bob was gonna punch me in the neck or something.”
Fortunately for the Office Depot team, the rain showers passed and after a red flag period, the race resumed at lap 134. As the laps clicked off, Edwards began to work his way towards the front of the field once again. Having more fuel than the leaders, Edwards was able to stay on the track longer when the next cycle of green flag pit stops began at lap 155. Osborne waited until Edwards reassumed the point before making the call to bring him to pit road for final service. At lap 166, Edwards took on four tires and fuel, and would be good to go to the finish of the race.
Edwards charged hard, picking up positions along the way when he could. But as the leaders began to come to pit road for service, Edwards inherited the lead at lap 187. He would lead the final 13 laps of the event to pick up his fourth win of the 2008 season.
“That was just unbelievable,” Edwards continued. “I just can’t thank my guys enough and everybody for hanging tough. Everybody at Office Depot, Ford Motor Company, this is good. Bob Osborne is the smartest guy in the world. He’s a smart guy, very intelligent and I hope we can be together for a long, long time. I’m just really happy. I was feeling really nervous and thought we made the wrong call there, but it was good though. There’s nothing like winning. I remember sitting here in 2005 and just, this track is real gratifying to win here. A lot of really great drivers have done very well here and it just means a lot to be on the list of people who have won here. Bob did a great job. I wasn’t so sure about halfway through when we were yelling at each other, but Bob did an unbelievable job. Jack, the engine was awesome. The pit crew was awesome and luck went our way today. That’s as good as it gets right there.”
Following their win at Pocono, Edwards and the No. 99 team jumped two spots to the third position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings, 185 markers behind point leader Kyle Busch. The Sprint Cup Series races next at Watkins Glen on Sunday, August 10, 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.