Edwards Overcomes Late-Race Mishap to Finish 14th
INDIANAPOLIS -- Carl Edwards was hoping to add his name to the record books at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, but several circumstances prevented that from happening. Edwards fought a tight Ortho Ford Fusion most of the race, and damage to the front splitter late in the race sent him back to 33rd with 33 laps to go. Edwards rallied by conserving fuel in the closing laps to finish the race in 14th place.
Edwards started 10th but began to fall back early in the race. He told crew chief Bob Osborne that the car was tight, a problem that seemed to plague him throughout the 160-lap event. The crew made adjustments on every pit stop and eventually got the car so it was only tight in the center of the corners.
By the halfway point Edwards was in 21st after a green-flap pit cycle. The crew made a pretty big wedge adjustment during a stop on lap 114 which could have made a bigger impact on the handling, but an incident shortly after the stop gave the team another setback.
During a restart on lap 118, Edwards dove to the inside of the track and got into the grass which damaged the left side of the front splitter. The damage significantly hurt the car's aerodynamics and the team caught a lucky break when a caution came a few laps later. Edwards was able to pit four times during the lengthy caution for the team to repair the splitter as best they could. Unfortunately he was back in 33rd when the race resumed on lap 127.
At this point Edwards and Osborne agreed the best strategy would be to conserve fuel and make it to the end of the race without having to stop again like several other teams would have to do. He was up to 12th place with 15 laps to go, but slowed a bit more to make sure he could make it to the end. Edwards crossed the finish line of bricks in 14th place.
Paul Menard won his first career Sprint Cup race followed by Jeff Gordon, Regan Smith, Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth. Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Mark Martin, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch rounded out the top 10.
"I thought I had engine issues early in the race, but if I did they went away," Edwards said. "The thing ran great. It would run out of power a couple times and I think in the end it was the wind. I think I was feeling the wind buffet the car a little bit and I was thinking it was the engine.
"We got forced into playing the fuel mileage game by me wrecking the front end of the car and it ended up working out better than it would have otherwise, so it was alright."
Edwards and the No. 99 team continue to lead the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings by 11 points over Jimmie Johnson. The next race will be Sunday, August 7 at Pocono Raceway. Coverage will begin at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on ESPN.