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May 27, 2008 9:34 AM

Late-Race Gamble Earns Edwards a Ninth-Place Finish in Coca-Cola 600

CONCORD, N.C. (May 25, 2008) – For the second time in as many weeks, Carl Edwards and the Office Depot team overcame a poor qualifying effort to record a top-10 finish at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.  Edwards conserved fuel over the final run and ran as high as the third position before the tank went dry, leaving Edwards to coast the No. 99 Ford home to a ninth-place finish.

Edwards took the green flag in the 30th position, but quickly showed that he had one of the fastest cars on the racetrack.  By lap 10, Edwards had advanced the No. 99 Office Depot Ford to the 22nd position.  Early on in the run, Edwards complained of his chassis being tight.  As the run continued, he felt the handling change to tight on corner entry and loose off.  Anticipating the changes to the racing surface as the sun began to set, crew chief Bob Osborne made the call for a wedge adjustment when Edwards came to pit road.  As the race continued under green flag conditions, the leaders began to come to pit road for service.  Edwards followed suit at lap 50, giving up the 14th position to take on four tires, fuel and the chassis adjustment.  Once the cycle of green flag stops was completed, Edwards showed in the 16th position.

Just as the field completed their cycle of stops, the No. 7 car brushed the wall in turn three, prompting NASCAR to throw the caution flag for debris.  Having just 10 laps on their tires, Osborne elected to bring Edwards to pit road for a fuel only stop.  Many of the leaders did the same, and when the field lined back up for the green flag, Edwards had gained one position, advancing to 15th place.  When green flag racing resumed, Edwards climb to the front.  At lap 100, Edwards overtook the No. 31 of Jeff Burton to break inside the top-10.  As the field continued under green flag conditions, the leaders began to come to pit road for service.  As the stops began to cycle, Edwards advanced to the third position before coming to pit road at lap 119.  Wanting to tighten the chassis up for later in the night, Osborne elected to send Edwards back on track with four new tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment.  Quick work by the Office Depot crew sent Edwards back on track in the 10th position.

Edwards continued his climb towards the front of the pack, advancing to the sixth position when the caution flag was displayed for debris at lap 161.  Edwards reported to the crew that the handling had gone to the tight side, so Edwards brought the No. 99 Ford to pit road for tires, fuel, air pressure and wedge adjustments.  The Office Depot team performed their stop in 13.9 seconds, allowing Edwards to advance to the fifth position for the lap 165 restart. 

Edwards held the position in the early going of the next run before overtaking the No. 83 of Brian Vickers at lap 184.  Just as Edwards completed the pass, the left rear wheel of Vickers’ machine broke from the car, sending the No. 83 hard into the outside wall.  With only 20 laps on their tires, Edwards and Osborne agreed to come to pit road for right side tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment to help loosen up the No. 99.  As Edwards tried to exit his pit, the No. 15 of Paul Menard trapped him in his stall, costing extra time on pit road.  The additional few seconds cost Edwards three spots, sending him back on track for the restart in the seventh position.

Once racing resumed, Edwards complained that the chassis had become loose getting into the corners and tight from the center off.  A debris caution at lap 224 allowed Edwards the opportunity to come to pit road for adjustments, taking on four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.  The changes made on the stop were not what Edwards needed, as he backslid from the seventh position to the 15th spot.  Edwards reported that he lacked overall grip, and that he was too tight on the bottom of the racetrack but too loose up high.  Edwards caught a break at lap 296 when the No. 88 car got into the outside wall, putting the field under caution.  Edwards followed the leaders to pit road, taking on four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.  Edwards lined up in the 11th position for the lap 304 restart.

As the leaders took the green flag, the field began to stack up behind them.  Edwards did what he could to avoid getting collected, but sustained damage to the nose and hood of the Office Depot Ford.  Osborne called Edwards to pit road at lap 306 to repair the damage, giving up the 11th position to ensure they would not encounter problems later in the race.  When the race restarted at lap 308, Edwards found himself mired back in the 18th position.

Edwards held the 18th position until the caution flag was displayed at lap 328 for a spin by the No. 10 car.  Edwards came to pit road for tires, fuel, air pressure and wedge adjustments.  With the caution extending for a few extra laps, Osborne called Edwards to pit road at lap 332 to top off the fuel tank.  When the race restarted at lap 333, Edwards held the 20th position.

Just as soon as the field went back to racing, the caution flag was displayed for debris on the frontstretch.  Edwards came to pit road under the caution flag to top off with fuel once again, hoping to have enough to make it to the distance.  Edwards restarted in the 20th position, but worked his way to the 6th position at lap 352.  As the field continued under green flag conditions, many of the lead lap cars that elected to stay out on the last caution period were forced to come to pit road for fuel.  Edwards began to conserve fuel, hoping to make it to the finish without having to come to pit road.  As everyone but the No. 9 of Kasey Kahne was forced to make a stop, Edwards ran as high as the second position with just two laps remaining.  But on the final lap, the fuel tank ran dry in the Office Depot Fusion, leaving Edwards to coast home in the ninth position.
 
“To get a top-10 finish was good,” said Edwards.  “At the end I thought we were conserving fuel and I thought we had a chance to win.  I thought we could win.  I didn’t realize that the 9 was there and we couldn’t win the race, or I could have conserved a little bit more fuel.  It was just a communication error there.  But, ninth place when we probably had about a 20th-place car is not bad.  I just wanted to win the Coke 600.  I’m just glad we ended up finishing as good as we did.  Our Office Depot Fusion was decent, it just wasn’t good enough.  We tried to do the fuel gamble thing and that was kind of fun.  I don’t think I’ve ever done it like that before, ever.  It was fun.”

Following their ninth-place finish at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Edwards and the No. 99 team advanced to the sixth position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings.  The Sprint Cup Series races next at Dover International Speedway on Sunday, June 1, 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 and John Wes Townley; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

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