RACE: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series; CAN-AM 400
TRACK: Phoenix International Raceway
DRIVER: Carl Edwards
CAR: No.19 Toyota Camry
POINTS POSITION: The Grid is reset for Homestead and the “Championship 4” are tied.
Edwards and his No. 19 STANLEY team headed to the desert for the final race in the “Round of 8” in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The one-mile precision oval would prove to be a challenge for the No. 19 team to find the right setup for speed, but Edwards was able to advance his Toyota Camry to the final round of qualifying on Friday and secure an 11th starting spot.
Sunday’s Can-Am 500 took the green flag at the one-mile track at 12:48 p.m. MT and immediately the first caution flag waved for the No. 42 spinning out on the first lap. Edwards ran in the top-15 and reported a loose condition over the next 79 laps. He green flag pitted on lap 81 from the 11th position and the second caution flag flew while he was on pit road, putting him down one lap. Crew chief Dave Rogers advised Edwards to take the wave around and get back on the lead lap. When racing resumed on lap 90, Edwards was scored in 14th.
On lap 114 Edwards reported a vibration. He had dropped back as far as 19th on lap 104. On lap 126 he had started his fight back to the front picking off cars one by one and was able to make up two more spots before pitting when the third caution came out for debris on lap 132. Edwards got tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment and was scored in 15th when the green flag waved on lap 138. By lap 183 he had advanced nine spots, entering the top-10 for the first time.
Edwards reported to Rogers on lap 200 that he was a little loose, okay in turns three and four and tight in the center, while still maintaining the 10th spot. On lap 206 he would pass Kevin Harvick for ninth. On lap 219 the fifth caution flag flew and Edwards pitted from the ninth position. The STANLEY crew changed four tires, fuel and made air adjustments. Rogers called Edwards back down to top off with fuel to engage their strategy for the end of the race. Edwards restarted 11th and quickly fell back to 13th.
The projected 312 lap race event went into overtime with two green-white-checkers at the end, extending the race 12 laps for an explosive ending. On the final restart Matt Kenseth and Alex Bowman collided, resulting in Kenseth hitting the wall and dashing his hopes to race for the Championship at Homestead. Edwards was scored in 19th when the checkered flag flew on lap 324.
Edwards and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch will be racing against Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano in Homestead-Miami, FL next week for the 2016 Sprint Cup Trophy in the finale “Championship 4”.
Carl Edwards’ Post-Race Thoughts:
How was this weekend on the race track knowing you were locked into a spot in Homestead?
“This was somewhat of a frustrating weekend. We just didn’t have speed all weekend and then in the race I didn’t do a very good job on the initial couple of starts and lost some track position. Then at the end I swore I had a flat tire, but I think maybe Paul (Menard) got into me just a little and turned me sideways. I didn’t feel the impact, but I thought I was going to wreck. Not the day we wanted, but we’ll put this behind us and get ready for Homestead. I just appreciate Stanley being on board and wish we could have done better for them.”
How would you rate the group of drivers you will compete against for the championship?
“It’s a pretty stout group. I think whoever wins it, they should take a lot of pride in that. Really excited to go down there and race. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for a while. Dave (Rogers, crew chief) is pumped. He’s ready to go down there now. We’re going to go have a good time.”Dave Roger's Post-Race Thoughts:
What does it mean to go to Homestead and battle for the championship?
“We’re extremely excited to take our No. 19 ARRIS Toyota to Homestead and race for a championship. These are the things that you dream of when you’re a kid. You grow up watching this stuff. Just fun to be competing at this level and what an opportunity to go down there and contend for the championship.”
What do you think of the field of drivers and teams you will compete against for the championship?
“I think the field is great and you want to win a championship by earning it and there’s no question that when one of these four guys – teams wins a championship, they will have earned it. That’s some strong competition and every one of them has strength. Jimmie’s (Johnson) been there, done that and that team is poised, they’re building really good cars. Penske group builds really good cars and Joey (Logano) is an extremely aggressive driver. The 18 (Kyle Busch) is running the same equipment we are and they’re defending champions so they will be tough. I’m pretty proud of our race team too and I think it’s going to be a battle. I think our fans are in for a heck of a show and I’m just proud to be part of it. I would like to make a little noise down there.”
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