LONG POND, Penn. (June 8, 2008) – Carl Edwards had one of the cars to beat on Sunday afternoon at Pocono Raceway, but a late-race problem on pit road ended the No. 99 team’s chance for a fourth victory of the 2008 season. Despite lining up for the final restart in the 33rd position, Edwards was able to rally to a ninth-place finish.
Edwards took the green flag in the sixth position, but by the completion of the first lap had advanced to the fourth position. Edwards held the position for the opening green flag run despite complaining of a tight condition. When the caution flag was displayed at lap 26 for debris on the racing surface, Edwards came to pit road to the attention of the No. 99 team to take on four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment in an attempt to fix the handling of the Aflac Ford. A 12.6 second pit stop sent Edwards back on track in the sixth position for the lap 30 restart.
When the green flag waved on the restart, the No. 99 team’s radio began to pick up the television commentary. The television station broadcasting the race had Edwards’ channel programmed so they could speak to the driver under the caution period, but a malfunction left the radio stuck, distracting Edwards and rendering his spotter useless. Obviously distracted by the commotion, Edwards dropped back to the ninth position at lap 38. The caution flag was displayed once again on the next lap, allowing Edwards to regain his composure and focus. When the leaders came to pit road for service, Edwards followed suit. Crew chief Bob Osborne made the call to take on right side tires. Quick work on pit road allowed Edwards to restart the race in the sixth position.
Edwards continued in the sixth position over the course of the ensuing green flag run, still complaining of his Aflac Ford being tight in the corners. When the caution flag was displayed at lap 56 for a spin involving the No. 77 of Sam Hornish, Edwards again followed the leaders to pit road for service. Osborne made the call to take on four tires, fuel and another wedge adjustment to help free the car off the corners. A slow stop and varied pit strategies by the other leaders resulted in Edwards restarting in the 18th position.
Determined to make up the lost ground, Edwards wasted little time working his way to the 15th position. His progress was slowed at lap 67 when the caution flag was displayed for a second spin involving Hornish’s No. 77. As the field followed the pace car, rain began to fall. NASCAR was forced to throw the red flag and bring the cars to pit road while the storm passed over. Once the red flag was lifted, some of the leaders came to pit road. Osborne and Edwards agreed to stay out and gain positions, which advanced them to the 11th position for the restart.
When green flag racing resumed, Edwards’ forward momentum followed suit. At lap 88, Edwards had assumed the fifth position. He continued his climb, advancing to the third position at lap 92. He held the spot until the No. 55 car made heavy contact with the wall, brining out the caution flag. Osborne made the call to take on four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment in a continuing attempt to loosen up the Aflac Ford. Varying strategies on pit road once again cost Edwards track position, placing him ninth for the lap 107 restart.
Despite continuing to fight a tight condition, Edwards was able to make up ground on the leaders. Edwards advanced to the sixth position at lap 129, and as the leaders began to come to pit road for green flag pit stops, the Aflac Ford continued to pick up positions. When his Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle came to pit road at lap 156, Edwards assumed the race lead. Osborne called Edwards to pit road at lap 157, again taking on four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. A slow stop cost Edwards additional time on pit road, but when the cycle of stops completed the No. 99 showed second to race leader Kasey Kahne.
Knowing the leaders would have to pit once more to make it to the distance, Edwards and Osborne began discussing short pitting. No sooner did their discussions begin than did Kahne’s No. 9 car come to pit road for tires and fuel. Osborne elected to bring Edwards to pit road at lap 176 for their stop, but as they came to pit road the caution flag was displayed for a spin by the No. 18 car. Edwards passed his pit stall and continued down pit road, avoiding a possible penalty for pitting while pit road was closed. Edwards came to the attention of the Aflac crew the next time by to take on four tires and fuel. What seemed to be a routine stop proved otherwise as Edwards left his pit stall and reported a flat left rear tire. A costly error on pit road resulted in the valve stem getting pulled from the rim of the left rear tire, causing the tire to go flat immediately.
Edwards had to come to pit road again for another four tire stop. The error resulted in Edwards lining up 34th for the final restart of the race, with just 20 laps to make up as much ground as possible. Edwards proved he was up to the task, as he managed to work his way up to the ninth position in the final laps of the race.
“We have just got to a better job on pit road,” said Edwards. “But, we went from 34th to ninth. I’m not real good at math, but that’s a lot of cars. This was fun. I mean, I had a good time on that last run. I just wish we had 10 more laps or something to work on people. I don’t know if anybody passed any more people than us today, but that’s just the way it goes. When you pull on pit road and whether it’s my fault or someone else’s fault, we lose an average of about three spots every time. It’s just unnecessary. We’ve just got to do a little better because we’ve got a great team. If we can put this together, we’ll be great.”
Following their ninth-place finish at Pocono, Edwards and the No. 99 team remain in the fourth position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings, 228 markers behind point leader Kyle Busch. The Sprint Cup Series races next at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, June 15, 2008.
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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.