ATLANTA, Ga. (October 26, 2008) – Carl Edwards picked up his third career win at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, marking the seventh time this season that the driver of the Office Depot Ford has pulled into victory lane. Edwards’ win came on the heels of his victory at Memphis in the NASCAR Nationwide Series on Saturday afternoon, making it the first time that the Columbia, Mo. native has swept a weekend when the races were held at different facilities.
With Friday afternoon’s qualifying session being rained out and the starting field being set by 2008 owners points, Edwards took the green flag in the fourth position. Edwards quickly overtook Greg Biffle and Jeff Burton to advance to the second position on the opening lap. Biffle worked his way around Edwards for the position at lap seven, but the two engaged in a battle for the spot with Edwards coming out ahead at lap 13. Edwards set his sights on race leader Jimmie Johnson, stalking him until overtaking the lead at lap 21.
When the caution flag was displayed for an incident involving the No. 66 car, Edwards came to pit road to take on four tires, fuel, and an air pressure adjustment. The Office Depot crew performed their service in 12.8 seconds, but thanks to having the last pit stall, the No. 48 team was able to steal the lead, placing Edwards in the second position for the lap 39 restart.
Edwards once again waged battle with for the lead, overtaking Johnson at lap 46. Edwards continued to hold the lead over the course of the ensuing green flag run, and pulled out to a large lead before debris on the track was spotted, forcing NASCAR to throw the caution flag at lap 109. After reporting that his Office Depot Ford was a little tight, Edwards and crew chief Bob Osborne agreed to come to pit road to take on four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment to help correct their handling problems. A slow stop resulted in Edwards losing the lead on pit road, lining him up in the second position behind teammate Matt Kenseth for the lap 114 restart.
Edwards reported early in the run that he was now fighting a loose condition. Despite his handling problems, he continued running in the second position. When NASCAR displayed the caution flag for debris at lap 208, Edwards came to pit road to take on four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. Edwards got off pit road in the fourth position, and would hold the spot over the course of the following run. The changes made to the Office Depot Ford resulted in a tight condition in the center, and a loose condition off the corners. Fortunately for Osborne, he got another chance to make a chassis adjustment when debris on the racetrack brought out the caution flag again at lap 253, allowing Edwards to come down pit road to take on four tires, fuel and another wedge adjustment.
Edwards resumed the race in the fourth position at lap 257, but overtook the No. 2 car at lap 259 to advance to the third position. Just as the field settled in, the No. 55 car was involved in an incident that brought out the caution flag at lap 288. Knowing it would likely be their final time on pit road, Osborne and Edwards agreed to make an adjustment to free the car up for the final run. The Office Depot crew performed their service of four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment flawlessly, but as Edwards exited pit road he made slight contact with the No. 88 of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., resulting in minor sheet metal damage to the No. 99 Ford. With Osborne convinced it would not be an issue, Edwards stayed on track to take the green flag from the fifth position at lap 293.
Edwards quickly worked his way to the third position, then began to set his sights on teammate Matt Kenseth for the second position. Edwards was able to overtake him for the spot at lap 303, just before a multi-car incident brought out the caution flag at lap 303. Edwards lined up behind the No. 11 of Denny Hamlin for the lap 309 restart, and as the field took the green Hamlin spun his rear tires, allowing Edwards to overtake him for the lead. Edwards wouldn’t look back for the final 16 laps, hanging on to pick up the win.
“First of all, I’ve got to thank Office Depot, Aflac, Ford, Sprint and also these fans for coming out here,” said Edwards from victory lane. “Denny spun his tires and I spun mine a little bit and then he spun them again and I pushed his bumper and then he spun them again and he went to the inside. I thought inside, ‘Man, here’s my chance to get to the outside,’ I really didn’t think he was gonna spin them that second time. I thought I was gonna bump him and he was gonna keep on going and I figured I’d follow him for a while, but it just worked out great. I can’t thank my guys enough. I’ve got to thank the engine department and the guys who build these race cars, and Jack Roush for giving me this opportunity. This whole weekend, it’s just unbelievable I get to do this. It’s very awesome. This race track is a blast. I hope they never repave it or mess with it. It’s really fun to drive on. You can spin the tires halfway down each straightaway and made it drive like a dry, slick dirt track. It was a lot of fun. Bob did a great job. In the middle of the race we weren’t as fast as we were at the beginning and the end, which, I guess, if you have to pick a spot in the race to not be fast, that would be it, but Bob did a great job at the end. It all worked out. It’s just awesome.”
Following their win at Atlanta, Edwards and the No. 99 team advanced to the second position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings, 183 markers behind point leader Jimmie Johnson. The Sprint Cup Series races next at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, November 2, 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.