A Day of Highs and Lows Ends With Disappointing 17th-Place Finish
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (March 1, 2009) – Carl Edwards and the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion team saw more highs and lows in today’s Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway than a black jack table on The Strip. The team struggled to find the perfect setup during Friday’s practice session; however Edwards still managed to qualify his Aflac Fusion 16th. Throughout the 285-lap event Edwards kept the No. 99 in the top 15 for 262 laps, but it seemed as though every time he would make up ground on the track, a miscue in the pits would set him back. In the closing laps of race, Edwards had overcome his pit road misfortunes, avoided several accidents and looked to be well on his way to a top-five finish, however on the final lap, his engine expired and he was forced to coast around to the finish line. Edwards fell from fifth place to 17th.
Four caution flags were waved within the first 75 laps of Sunday’s 427-mile race. Two, unfortunately were due to the misfortunes of Roush Fenway Racing drivers, Matt Kenseth and David Ragan, as their engines expired. Despite his teammates’ troubles, Edwards managed to wheel the No. 99 up to fourth place by lap 73 when he made his way to pit road for a routine stop. During the four-tire-change, a lug nut was dropped and cost Edwards valuable time and track position. He was scored in 14th position when green flag racing resumed on lap 82.
Down, but not out, Edwards did his best to make his way through traffic, nonetheless the Aflac Ford received a bit of fender damage on lap 94 when the No. 12 wrecked in front of Edwards. Back on pit road the Aflac crew worked to mend the bent fender and Edwards again lost valuable track position. On lap 99, Edwards was scored in 24th place.
Still digging, Edwards made his way up to third place by lap 220, but yet again trouble would find team 99. On another routine pit stop, that seemed flawless at first, NASCAR Officials cited the No. 99 team for missing a lug nut and Edwards was forced to come down pit road for a second time to ensure that all lug nuts were fastened properly. Edwards fell eight spots due to the mishap and was running 11th on lap 227.
Edwards didn’t let the mistake hinder his performance on the track and wheeled the No. 99 back into the top five by his final pit stop on lap 258. Two cautions would stall the race before the checkers waved and Edwards looked to be well on his way to a top-five finish. However, Lady Luck would not be on the side of the No. 99 and on the final lap the engine expired in the Aflac Ford and Edwards coasted around the track to finish in 17th place.
Kyle Busch, who started from the rear of the field because of an engine change during Friday’s practice session pulled off a .411-second victory over second place, Clint Bowyer. Jeff Burton, Bowyer’s teammate at Richard Childress Racing, took third, followed by David Reutimann and Bobby Labonte. Jeff Gordon was sixth, followed by Greg Biffle, Brian Vickers, Jamie McMurray and Dale Earnhardt Jr. who completed the top 10.
Edwards and the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion team will race next at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Fox television and PRN radio affiliates will carry the live race broadcast beginning at 2:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, March 8.
Team owner, Jack Roush comments on engine troubles at Las Vegas Motor Speedway: “I think we misjudged how fast this tire was gonna be and the engine turned more. It’s the same spec on the engine that we had all of last year. It wasn’t something new or experimental; I had great confidence in it. We had it the last third of last year, but we saw more RPM with it in qualifying than we ever had and we saw more RPM in the race than we ever had. The tire didn’t fall off as much as we expected it to, so the tire did a real nice job but we just over-revved the engine. We had a choice of which rear axle ratio to use and we used the higher of the ratios and it was 200 RPM more than the other ratio would have been. We just made the wrong choice from a crew chief and from an engineer point of view on that. If we can go back looking at it I’d say I need to have more margin in the engine and it needs to be not that close to its limit, but if you go through and win the races we won last year late in the year in the chase and we had the success that we had in Fontana, there’s no reason to be nervous about it. The fact that it crept up a little bit didn’t raise the alarm that it should have. We’ll be wiser going to Atlanta.”
WERE YOU NERVOUS AFTER THE FIRST TWO? “By all appearances we broke a valve in one, in the 17 engine, and by all appearances we broke a valve spring for sure in the other one. That looks like valvetrain trouble. Very quickly we thought that we were probably turning the engines harder than reason would dictate, so we passed that information around that said the RPM was a problem we were facing. But when it comes down to the final laps like with Carl, you’ve got to go for it. You’ve got to try to win the race and do the very best you can in the closing laps. Everybody had been going slower than they might have based on limiting the RPM at the end of the straightaway. Of course, they loosened the demon after the last caution there and the result was the 99 wouldn’t go either.”
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. Aflac is 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. Our insurance products provide protection to more than 40 million people worldwide. Aflac has been included in Fortune magazine's listing of America's Most Admired Companies for seven consecutive years and in Fortune magazine's list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in America for eleven consecutive years.
Aflac has also been recognized three times by both Fortune magazine's listing of the Top 50 Employers for Minorities and Working Mother magazine's listing of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers. 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.
Edwards’ Las Vegas Results
Fastest Laps: 30
Laps in top 15: 262
Edwards’ 2009 Cumulative Record
Races: 3 of 36
Behind Leader: -82
Top 5s: 0
Top 10s: One
Top 15s: One