BROOKLYN, Mich. (August 17, 2008) – Carl Edwards swept the weekend at Michigan International Raceway, picking up the wins in both Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series and Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event. Edwards’ win on Sunday was his fifth of the 2008 season, inching him closer to point leader Kyle Busch’s bonus point total heading into The Chase.
Edwards started in the 27th position after a poor qualifying effort, but showed in the early stages of the 400-mile race that his No. 99 Office Depot Ford was very fast. Despite a loose handling condition, Edwards was able to advance to the 18th position at lap 10. Edwards showed no signs of slowing down as he continued his assault on the front runners, moving to the 12th position when the first caution of the event came at lap 18. Edwards followed the leaders to pit road, coming to the attention of crew chief Bob Osborne and the Office Depot team to take on four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. Quick work on pit road allowed Edwards to rejoin the field in the 10th position for the lap 26 restart.
Edwards continued to fight a loose condition, but was relentless in his charge towards the front of the field. Edwards methodically picked off competitors one-by-one, running as high as the third position at lap 53. With the race continuing under green flag conditions, the leaders began to peel off the racetrack and head to pit road for service. Edwards followed suit, giving up the third position to come to the attention of the Office Depot team to take on four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. A blazing fast pit stop enabled Edwards to return to the track in the second position behind race leader Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
It would only take seven laps for Edwards to chase down Earnhardt’s No. 88 and assume the lead for the first time at lap 74. Once he was able to put the Office Depot Ford Fusion at the front of the field, Edwards checked out from the field establishing a substantial lead. He would hold the position through two cycles of green flag pit stops, but would drop to the second position at lap 141 when the No. 18 of Kyle Busch beat Edwards off pit road.
As the laps clicked off, Edwards complained that his Office Depot Ford was extremely loose. Despite his handling problems, he was able to hold onto the second position and keep the race leader in his sight. When the yellow flag was displayed for debris on the racetrack at lap 164, the leaders got the opportunity many of them needed to come to pit road for service. Edwards followed suit, taking on four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. Once the race restarted, Edwards reported to his crew that the changes they made were exactly what he needed.
Only a handful of laps would be completed before the caution flag was displayed once again for debris. Knowing they were in the closing laps of the race and would have only this one final chance to make adjustments, Osborne and Edwards agreed to come to pit road for right side tires. The Nos. 6 and 88 cars stayed on the racetrack, lining Edwards up in the third position for the restart at lap 182.
Edwards made quick work of the front runners, reassuming the race lead at lap 183. Despite two late caution periods, Edwards was able to hang on and pick up his fifth win of the season.
“Bob just did a great job,” said Edwards. Everyone on this Office Depot crew did an unbelievable job, and the greatest part is that we didn’t give up more bonus points to Kyle. He’s just so strong – every time I win and he finishes second, that’s really a 20-point spread for us. So, that’s what we just have to keep doing, is go out here and try to win the next three events and go into this Chase on even ground. But the guys are doing great. Bob made great adjustments, and that was the key to the race.
“It means a lot to me to pick up the win here in this race today,” Edwards continued. “Four years ago today I ran my first Cup race for Jack Roush and he took a giant gamble on me, I felt like at the time, to put me in that No. 99 car. Jack won the race that day, I believe Greg won it, and we finished 10th and all five of the cars were in the top 10, and to be a part of that again today, for Ford Motor Company, for Roush and for all the guys, it’s an honor.
“We’re getting to the point – I feel, personally – that we can win at any race track we go to. And our pit crew has stepped up their game. That was our weakness for a long time, and the guys have repeatedly week after week have worked harder and become better, so I feel very confident at all the race tracks we go to. Last year we won at Bristol. I feel great about California. All of the chase tracks I feel we can compete to win at. So, I feel good. It should be a lot of fun.”
Following their win at Michigan, Edwards and the No. 99 team remain second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings, 222 markers behind point leader Kyle Busch. The Sprint Cup Series races next at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday, August 22, 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.