Finishes 32nd After Late-Race Accident; Falls to 12th in Point Standings
DARLINGTON, S.C. (May 7, 2009) – Carl Edwards considers Darlington Raceway one of his favorite racetracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit. The driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford would like nothing more than to add a victory at the famed speedway to his already impressive resume. But in a typical full-moon, Saturday night spectacle at the second-oldest track in NASCAR, The Lady in Black was unforgiving and many fell victim to her treacherous ways, including Edwards. Edwards and the No. 99 team were good in practice and qualified a respectable ninth for the 367-lap Southern 500. But, Edwards earned his Darlington Stripe early in the race and was forced to pit numerous times to correct the off-balanced tow acquired when the No. 99 slammed the wall. After the tow was mended, Edwards started his trek to the front. Throughout the race team 99 worked to find the setup they needed to put Edwards up front however, setbacks would thwart their efforts. When it seemed as though the Aflac team had hit on something and Edwards was making up ground, he was involved in an accident that sent him to the garage for repairs. After several laps in the garage, the No. 99 returned to the track to complete the grueling night. Edwards finished the race in 32nd place 53 laps down.
From the drop of the green flag, Edwards reported that his Aflac Ford was “loose”, as result he earned his Darlington stripe on lap 17 while running eighth. Though he pitted during a “quickie yellow” caution on lap 20 for four tires and fuel, Edwards’ No. 99 was not mended from the incident and more pit stops would be needed to remedy the off-balanced tow. Fortunately for the Aflac team, another caution was waved on lap 30, permitting more time for time for team 99 to work on their Ford. Edwards would bring his Fusion down pit road more than four times under this yellow flag period. Finally when green flag racing resumed on lap 37, Edwards' Ford was back to good and he soon began making up ground. By his next pit stop on lap 75, Edwards had moved up from 35th to 20th position.
Throughout the ensuing laps, the Aflac crew would tweak the handling of Edwards’ Ford during scheduled pit stops. Though the adjustments made in the pits improved the handling of the No. 99, situations on pit road set Edwards back on the track. Whether the call was for four tires, when other competitors took two; or slight errors made during the stops, Edwards was only able to gain positions twice after pitting.
The most significant gain came after a lap 275 pit stop, when crew chief Bob Osborne called for a two-tires and Edwards gained six positions. With just 86 laps remaining in what was described as the most exhausting race of the season thus far, Edwards was running in sixth place and reported being pleased with the handling of his Aflac Ford. However, just four laps into the run, trouble would again find team 99. While racing hard with a teammate, Edwards’ Ford was sent into the fence, significant damage was sustained and the No. 99 was sent to the garage for repairs.
“It’s a little harder to pass because the grip level is so hot and you’re riding on that knife edge and if you get under someone and get a little loose, there’s no room for error,” Edwards said. “This is what makes Darlington so treacherous. Greg (Biffle) just got under me and got my Aflac Fusion in the wall there. It’s too bad that happened. We had a really good Ford. I had been trying to give it my best all night and race cautiously and we just got tangled up with him there.”
After spending a lengthy period in the garage trying to patch up the Aflac Ford, the No. 99 returned to the track to complete the race. When the checkers finally waved ending the Saturday night spectacle, Edwards was scored in 32nd place, 53 laps down.
Fifty-year-old, Mark Martin, the oldest driver in the 43-car field, charged home ahead of three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson and other younger drivers to win the Southern 500, on what is known as NASCAR's toughest track in a record-setting night for cautions. Trailing Martin and Johnson was Tony Stewart who finished third, just ahead of Ryan Newman. Jeff Gordon was fifth. Sixth place went to Martin Truex, Jr. Talladega winner Brad Keselowski wound up seventh ahead of Biffle. Rookie Joey Logano was ninth and Roush Fenway Racing’s Matt Kenseth finished 10th.
After a disappointing dance with The Lady in Black, Edwards fell from ninth to 12th in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings. He trails leader, Jeff Gordon by 330 points.
Edwards and the No. 99 Aflac team will light up the night next week with a special silver paint scheme for Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star Race. SPEED television and PRN radio affiliates will broadcast the race live on Saturday, May 16 at 8:00 p.m. (EST).
Edwards’ Darlington Results
Fastest Laps: Two
Laps in top 15: 161
Edwards’ 2009 Cumulative Record
Races: 11 of 36
Behind Leader: -330
Top 5s: One
Top 10s: Four
Top 15s: Five
About Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing is NASCAR’s largest team operating nine motorsports teams. Five in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with drivers Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and David Ragan; three in the Nationwide Series with Kenseth, Biffle, Edwards, McMurray, Ragan, Erik Darnell, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Colin Braun; and one in the Camping World Truck Series with Braun.
For more than 50 years, Aflac products have given policyholders the opportunity to direct cash where it is needed most when a life-interrupting medical event causes financial challenges. As the number one provider of guaranteed-renewable insurance in the United States and the number one insurance company in terms of individual insurance policies in force in Japan, Aflac insurance products provide protection to more than 40 million people worldwide. Aflac has been recognized by Ethisphere magazine as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies for three consecutive years and was also named by the Reputation Institute as the Most Respected Company in the Global Insurance Industry in 2008. In 2009 Fortune magazine recognized Aflac as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in America for the eleventh consecutive year. Fortune magazine also ranked Aflac No. 1 on its global list of the Most Admired Companies in the Life and Health Insurance category. Aflac appears on Hispanic Enterprise magazine's list of the 50 Best Companies for Supplier Diversity and on Black Enterprise magazine's list of the 40 Best Companies for Diversity. Aflac was also named by Forbes magazine as America's Best-Managed Company in the Insurance category. Aflac Incorporated is a Fortune 500 company listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AFL. To find out more about Aflac, visit aflac.com.