Edwards Earns Top Five Finish in Vegas
LAS VEGAS - Carl Edwards in the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion took a fifth- place finish in Sunday's race, making this Edwards' fourth top-five finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Coming off of last week's victory and breaking a 70-race winless streak, Edwards claimed 39 points in Sunday's finish, placing him fifth in the points standings behind Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Denny Hamlin.
Weather conditions called for a cancellation of Friday's qualifying round, leaving the starting lineup to last year's points standing and causing Edwards to start 16th. Upon the green flag start, Edwards quickly jumped up the pack to 10th within the first 30 laps. Edwards came in for a pit stop by lap 45 where the No. 99 crew gave him four tires, fuel and chassis adjustment and left pit road in a competitive seventh place standing.
The No. 99 fell back a spot to eighth place and remained consistent through the next 20 laps when the first caution of the day went out for debris on the backstretch. Edwards came in for right-side tires and fuel and Aflac Ford Fusion was sent back out in his same eighth place position.
Edwards felt the car was consistently loose in the center, requiring crew chief Jimmy Fennig and the No. 99 pit team to make strategic track bar and chassis adjustments through the next two pit stops. Edwards had just gained three positions by lap 189 when shortly thereafter Ryan Newman hit the wall and the third caution of the day went out. Upon the restart, Edwards was pushed to the outside and slipped back to seventh where he held on for the next 20 laps.
The No. 99 had battled back to sixth place when the fourth caution of the day went out on lap 223. The crew did another round of right-side tires and chassis adjustments, allowing for a successful restart and pushing Edwards up to fourth place. Edwards and Matt Kenseth experienced a quick scare, when the No. 20 car tire's spun and causing Edwards to maneuver away from an oncoming wreck. The sudden loss in the pack pushed him back to seventh place where he battled until the end.
"That one restart he got sideways and I hit him just hard enough that I thought maybe I could straighten him up and go," said Edwards. "It worked good for him and terrible for me. That was a wild race and some hard driving right there."
The fifth and final caution went out with only 32 laps remaining at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The No. 99 Ford Fusion drove hard to the end and successfully charged to a fifth-place finish by the time the checkered flag came out.
"We wanted better but I think if I would have done a better job on my restarts then we would have been better," continued Edwards. "We were sliding all over the place out there. I am sure we wore out some steering boxes and that was a good race.
Edwards gained 39 points in Sunday's race, placing him fifth in the points standings going into next week's Food City 500 in Bristol, TN. Coverage of the race begins Sunday, March 17th at 11:30 a.m. CT on FOX.