WEST ALLIS, Wisc. (June 21, 2008) – Despite having to start at the rear of the field and not having turned a single lap of practice, Carl Edwards was able to pick up his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory of the 2008 season at Milwaukee. The win came in the first start for the pairing of Edwards and crew chief Drew Blickensderfer, who came to the No. 60 team earlier in the week.
With two practice sessions for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in Sonoma on Saturday afternoon, Roush Fenway Racing driver Erik Darnell substituted for Edwards in practice and qualifying. Darnell was able to post the 11th-fastest time, but due to the driver change prior to the start of the race, Edwards was sent to the rear of the field for the start of the race. It didn’t take long for Edwards to get acclimated to the Save-A-Lot Ford, as he advanced from 43rd to the 25th position at the completion of the first lap. Edwards continued his climb towards the front, advancing to the 15th position when the caution flag flew at lap 14 for an incident involving the No. 27 car.
Although Edwards was able to gain positions, he complained that his No. 60 Fusion lacked grip, and was loose on corner entry and exit. With the leaders coming to pit road, Edwards followed suit. Blickensderfer made the call for a fuel only stop, hoping to gain track position. With most of the field performing the same service, Edwards lined up in the 18th position for the lap 22 restart.
Edwards continued to struggle with a loose condition when green flag racing resumed, but got a break at lap 53 when the caution flag flew for the second time. Blickensderfer called Edwards to pit road for tires, fuel, air pressure and a wedge adjustment to help tighten up the Save-A-Lot Ford. Quick work on pit road allowed Edwards to rejoin the field in the ninth position for the lap 58 restart.
As the laps clicked off, Edwards continued to work his way towards the front of the field. Despite complaining that he continued to fight a loose condition, Edwards was able to advance to the fifth position. When his Roush Fenway Racing teammate Colin Braun spun at lap 148 to bring out the caution flag, the Save-A-Lot crew was given another opportunity to come to pit road for adjustments. Blickensderfer made the call to take on four tires, fuel and another wedge adjustment. Edwards gained a spot on pit road, advancing to the fourth position for the lap 152 restart.
As green-flag racing resumed, Edwards reported that the changes made to his Save-A-Lot Ford greatly improved the handling. Edwards advanced to the second position, and overtook the No. 2 car for the lead shortly thereafter. Despite being challenged by a handful of drivers in the closing laps of the event, Edwards was able to keep his challengers at bay and pick up his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory of the 2008 season.
“First of all, a huge thanks to Erik Darnell,” said Edwards. “I’m sure Drew would say the same. He did a really good job and that was very much appreciated by me. I also have to thank PK [Pierre Kuettel]. We made this crew chief swap this week and I think Drew would also agree with me that PK did almost all the work on this car and got it set up to come here. He’s a huge part of this win. We’re thinking about him. It just feels good to win a race for Save-a-Lot and for our team and for everybody at the shop and all the guys who’ve been working hard and sticking with this program even though we haven’t won a race for a long time. It means a lot to have all that support. This win is a huge relief.”
The Nationwide Series next races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday, June 28.
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.