RICHMOND, Va. (May 4, 2008) – Carl Edwards was able to recover from a mid-race wreck to finish seventh at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night, recording his sixth top-10 finish of the 2008 season. Edwards appeared to have a strong car in the early going of the event, but struggled with track position. Despite sustaining damage, Edwards’ No. 99 Office Depot Fusion was one of the fastest cars on the racetrack, and rallied in the second half of the race to become the highest finishing Ford.
Edwards started from the 19th position on Saturday night, and quickly worked his way through traffic to the 14th position at lap 40. Edwards reported in the early going that his Office Depot Ford was tight in the center of the turns, and loose off of them. When the caution flag was displayed for the first time at lap 65 for the No. 70 car making contact with the outside retaining wall, Edwards followed the rest of the lead lap cars down pit road for tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Quick work on pit road advanced Edwards to the 13th position for the lap 72 restart.
Edwards maintained his position over the course of the ensuing green flag run, and continued to complain about being tight in the corners. The No. 99 team got another chance to make adjustments when the caution flag was displayed at lap 127 for debris. Edwards followed the leaders down pit road again for tires, fuel, air pressure and wedge adjustments at lap 129. The Office Depot crew once again performed flawlessly on pit road, allowing Edwards to advance to the 10th position for the lap 132 restart.
Although Edwards reported that he continued to fight being tight in the center of the turn, the No. 99 Ford began to record lap times faster than the race leader. Edwards worked his way to the seventh position at lap 200 when he passed the No. 9 of Kasey Kahne. Just as Edwards advanced his position, the caution flag was displayed as the Nos. 01 and 84 cars made heavy contact. Edwards came down pit road to the attention of his Office Depot crew for tires, fuel, air pressure and wedge adjustments. Edwards lined up in the sixth position for the lap 209 restart.
Things seemed to be going well for the Office Depot team, as Edwards appeared to be on his way towards the front of the field. However, progress was slowed at lap 229 when Edwards, J.J. Yeley and Dave Blaney were involved in an incident that triggered a 12-car wreck in turn three. NASCAR was forced to display the red flag for 22 minutes, bringing the field to a halt as they worked to clear the track of debris. The time gave the Office Depot crew the opportunity to asses the damage and formulate a plan for repairs. Once the red flag was lifted, Edwards came down pit road for tires and fuel, and repairs to both front fenders. The No. 99 team took advantage of the extended caution period by coming to pit road two additional times to ensure that they had repaired the damage to the best of their availability. Due to the fact that Edwards came to pit road before it was open, the No. 99 was hit with a tail end of the longest line penalty, dropping Edwards to the 19th position for the lap 236 restart.
Edwards showed little effect from the damage sustained in the wreck as he began his march to the front of the field. Edwards continued to complain that his Ford Fusion was tight in the center and loose off the turns, but he was able to continue his climb. Edwards had worked his way to the 11th position when the caution flag was displayed at lap 354 for a wreck involving the Nos. 5 and 55 cars. Once pit road opened, the No. 99 team got another opportunity to adjust on their Office Depot Ford. Edwards came to their attention for tires, fuel, track bar and air pressure adjustments. A slow stop cost the team two positions on the restart, but Edwards assured his crew that they would be able to make up their lost ground once green flag racing resumed.
Edwards restarted in the 13th position, but worked his way around the Nos. 43 and 11 cars to advance to the 11th position at lap 391. Just as Edwards passed the No. 11 of Denny Hamlin, the caution flag was displayed for Hamlin as he cut a tire and made contact with the outside wall. Crew chief Bob Osborne elected to bring Edwards to pit road for a two-tire stop under the caution period, hoping to give his driver one final shot for the finish.
Edwards restarted in the 10th position and held the spot until the caution flag was displayed at lap 398 for a wreck involving the leaders, Dale Earnhards, Jr. and Kyle Busch. The race was sent into overtime, setting up a green-white-checkered flag finish. Once the field was given the green flag at lap 407, Edwards did all he could to pick up positions in the closing laps. When the checkered flag dropped, the Office Depot team was credited with a seventh-place finish.
“It ended up a lot better than I thought it was going to,” said Edwards of the race. “That wreck on the backstretch was terrible. I wish that wouldn’t have happened. He [Yeley] moved to give me the outside and then it looked like he got turned a little bit by the 22 [Blaney] and it was kind of a worst-case scenario. That put us back. I think we had an Office Depot Ford Fusion that could compete for the win, but to come back from that to finish seventh was great.”
Following their seventh-place finish at Richmond, Edwards and the No. 99 Office Depot team remain tenth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings, 265 markers behind point leader Kyle Busch. The Sprint Cup Series races next at Darlington Raceway on Saturday, April 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.