BRISTOL, Tenn. (Mar.16, 2014) – Carl Edwards headed into the Food City 500 hoping to repeat his victories of 2007 and 2008 at the Last Great Coliseum; Bristol Motor Speedway. The No. 99 team succeeded in making the Kellogg’s Ford Fusion the fastest racecar on the track, as Edwards chipped away at the competition one by one. A late-race strategy play by veteran crew chief Jimmy Fennig to stay out under caution placed Edwards in the top spot where he would remain for the remainder of the 500-lap race before completing his celebratory backflip.
“First, I’ve got to thank the fans for sticking around,” stated Edwards after his win. “How about Ford? They’ve done so much in this sport. They make the greatest cars on the road and for them to finish tonight 1-2-3-5, that’s a big turnaround from the other night.”
“Jimmy Fennig made some calls,” added Edwards. “That’s a gutsy call with all the tire trouble. Goodyear makes great tires. We didn’t have trouble at the end, but it was just a bad matchup with the track. It’s just an awesome night. We’re in the Chase and we’re gonna go win this championship. I just can’t believe we turned this thing around. We were terrible on Saturday, so I’m just glad we turned it around. Jimmy is the man.”
The skies were ominous to begin the day, but spirits were bright as Edwards was determined to get redemption after engine troubles kept the two-time NASCAR champion from reaching victory lane in August. The race kicked off two hours behind schedule and when the green finally came out Edwards and the rest of the team were faced with a loose race car and front-left tire trouble, before the race was once again halted due to inclement weather.
When green flag racing resumed at approximately 7 p.m., the car was gaining speed and Edwards was able to successfully work his way into the top 10 by lap 176. Trouble on pit road set him back to the 13th spot, but Edwards kept digging and overtook his competition one at a time eventually working his way up to sixth by lap 271. A couple of quality adjustments by the No.99 team allowed Edwards to reach the runner-up position on lap 304 as he battled for first with former teammate Matt Kenseth. A caution at lap 394 eventually allowed Edwards to pass the No. 20 car as he beat him off of pit road.
When the yellow was waved on lap 422, Kevin Harvick, the leader at the time, along with much of the field, decided to come in for fresh tires, but crew chief Fennig instructed Edwards to say out; confident that their set of Goodyears would hold up for remainder of the race. This call placed the Columbia, Mo. native in the top spot and he quickly began to drive away from the field.
During the final run, an accidental flip of a switch caused a caution to come out a few laps shy of the finish as Edwards was cruising to the checkers. Luckily for Edwards, rain began to fall and the race was frozen on a yellow-checkered finish giving the driver his 22nd Sprint Cup victory and clinching a spot in the Chase for the No. 99 team.
Tune in as Edwards looks to continue his success at the Auto Club 400 this Sunday, March 23rd. Race coverage begins at 3 p.m. on FOX.