Concord, N.C. (October 11, 2008) – After posting some of the fastest times in practice, Carl Edwards and the No. 99 Aflac team believed that they would contend for the win in Saturday night’s race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Things got off to a strong start, but seemingly their fortunes quickly turned as the No. 99 Ford Fusion first experienced tire troubles, then ignition problems that would leave them several laps down and out of contention for a seventh win of the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
Edwards took the green flag from the second position when qualifying was rained out on Thursday night, setting the staring lineup by 2008 owners points. Early in the opening run Edwards complained of a tight condition in the center of the turns, but continued to turn consistently fast lap times despite his handling issues. When the No. 78 blew a right front tire and brought out the caution flag at lap 43, Edwards came to pit road for service with the rest of the leaders. The Aflac team sent Edwards back on track with four tires and fuel in 12.9 seconds, allowing Edwards to line up in the second position for the lap 48 restart.
Once green flag racing resumed, Edwards immediately began to complain of a vibration. The sensation worsened, and four laps later he returned to pit road to take on right side tires. As Edwards left pit road, the No. 00 car made heavy contact with the outside wall forcing NASCAR to throw the caution flag. Timing and scoring showed Edwards in the 39th position, one lap down to the leaders. With nothing to lose, crew Chief Bob Osborne called Edwards to pit road to take on four tires and fuel.
Edwards lined up in the 40th position for the lap 59 restart, and quickly worked his way around the No. 70 car for the 39th position. Edwards tried to work his way to contending for the free pass should the caution flag come out, but when it was displayed at lap 63, Edwards was short of being in the position he needed to be in to capitalize on the situation. Edwards and Osborne agreed to stay out under the caution period, but Edwards reported over the radio that he had lost power and that he was coasting to a stop. Edwards required a push from a tow truck to make it to pit road where the Aflac crew quickly went to work to diagnose the problem. A failure in the ignition system was discovered, forcing the team to swap ignition boxes. The time spent on pit road resulted in Edwards losing an additional 16 laps, effectively ending any hopes they had of winning the race. The crew continued to work hard in an effort to pick up positions should other drivers have problems, a strategy that would gain them seven positions in the finishing order.
“They wound up changing both ignition boxes and the wiring harness that controls it and then magically it had ignition again,” car owner Jack Roush said. “But it had no ignition on either box and the initial diagnosis was that it was dead.”
“We had a great Aflac Ford tonight,” said Edwards. “That car right there is a great race car. I don’t know if we’ve ever had the problem that we had there. It was something with the ignition system, so it’s very frustrating. We changed all the ignition stuff and the car worked again, so you never know what it could be there. It’s pretty amazing, we have two pretty independent ignition systems and, for some reason they both quit. I just can’t believe it. We fought back, though. We’ve got a great team and we’ve just got to get everything we can. We’ve got five more races. I just want to get to Martinsville. I’ve never been so excited to race at Martinsville in my life.”
Following their 33rd-place finish at Charlotte, Edwards and the No. 99 team fell to the fourth position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings, 168 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson. The Sprint Cup Series next races at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, October 19, 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, Bobby East and John Wes Townley; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.