BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 16, 2008) - Carl Edwards appeared to be on his way to a top-10 finish at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon, but on the final restart of the event Edwards’ No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion did not come up to speed. A vapor lock caused an interruption of fuel pressure to the carburetor, resulting in a slow roll to the finish line for Edwards.
When qualifying was canceled on Friday afternoon due to inclement weather, the starting grid for Sunday’s 500-lap race was set according to the 2007 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner points standings, giving Edwards the ninth starting position.
When the green flag dropped and racing got underway, Edwards dropped back to the 12th position. He held the spot for the opening 37 laps, reporting to his crew that he was loose from the center of the corners to the exit of the turns. Edwards managed to work his way around the No. 77 car for the eleventh position, and quickly radioed to the crew that he would need a bungee cord on the first pit stop, as his shifter was coming out of gear. Edwards got the break he needed when NASCAR threw a competition caution at lap 50, bringing the field to pit road for service.
Edwards came to pit road for tires, fuel, a wedge adjustment and the bungee cord. His Office Depot crew completed their service and sent Edwards back on track in the 13th position for the lap 57 restart. The No. 99 remained in the 13th spot on the scoring pylon for much of the next run, but eventually faded to the 17th position when Edwards reported that the handing had changed drastically, and he was now fighting a tight condition in the center of the turns. Edwards again caught a break when the caution flag was displayed at lap 94 for debris on the racetrack. Edwards came down pit road for routine service, taking on four tires and fuel. Interim crew chief Robbie Reiser elected to forgo making a chassis adjustment, as they anticipated the race track would change and come their way.
Edwards restarted in the 16th position, and held the spot until the next caution period came at lap 120 for an incident with the No. 22 car. After Edwards complained that the handling did not improve, Reiser elected to take on four tires, fuel and undo the wedge adjustment made on the previous stop. It proved to be the right call, as the Office Depot Ford came to life when the race restarted at lap 125. Edwards quickly advanced from the 17th position to the 11th position by lap 156, working his way through traffic and back towards the front of the field. Edwards’ surge continued as he moved up to the eighth position at lap 187. His gain was halted at lap 191, when the caution flag was displayed following a multi-car crash in turn one.
Edwards came to pit road once again for routine service, taking on four tires and fuel at lap 193. Edwards restarted in the eighth position, and continued to run around the position over the next 100 laps of the event. Edwards continued to complain of a tight condition in the center of the turns, and when the caution flag was displayed at lap 375 for a spin involving the No. 48 car, Reiser took advantage by calling Edwards to pit road for tires, fuel and another wedge adjustment. The No. 99 crew performed flawlessly, and sent Edwards back on track in the sixth position for the lap 381 restart.
Edwards continued to battle a tight condition as the laps clicked off, but managed to keep a strong hold of the eighth spot. As the race began to come to the conclusion, Edwards seemed destined for a top ten finish until the No. 83 car made contact and brought out the caution flag with 10 laps remaining. Deciding to take a gamble and go for the win, Edwards and Reiser agreed to come to pit road one last time for tires and a splash of fuel to have a shot at the leaders. Quick work on pit road sent Edwards back on track in the ninth position for the lap 495 restart.
Edwards quickly worked his way around the No. 38 on the restart, but the caution flag was displayed once again when race leader Tony Stewart was sent spinning after contact from behind. The race was sent into NASCAR’s version of overtime, a green-white-checkered flag finish.
Edwards lined up in the seventh position for the final restart, and looked to have a shot at finishing inside the top-five. When the green flag dropped for the final time, Edwards’ Office Depot Ford did not come up to speed. As the field ran the final two laps, all Edwards could do was coast his way around the racetrack with the engine in his Fusion silent. Edwards eventually got a push to the checkered flag, but what appeared to be a solid finish went up in vapors as the fuel in the delivery system changed from a liquid state to a gas as a result of heat in the engine.
Following their 16th place finish at Bristol, Edwards and the No. 99 Office Depot team hold the 16th position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings, 234 markers behind point leader Kyle Busch. The Sprint Cup Series races next at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, March 30, 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.