Edwards Drives to First Sprint Cup Series Road Course Win at Sonoma
SONOMA, Ca. (June 22, 2014) – Roush Fenway Racing’s Carl Edwards turned in a dominate performance in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway, taking the lead and pulling away late in his No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion for the first NSCS road racing win of his career. The No. 99 Aflac crew enacted a two-stop plan and stuck with it, pitting for the first time under caution on lap 30 and then under green on lap 70.
A timely caution following the team’s second stop, forced the majority of the field to pit, placing the No.99 Aflac Ford Fusion in fourth on the restart. Edwards took the lead on the next restart and pulled away from the field, holding off Jeff Gordon to bring home his second checkered flag of the season.
“That’s a moment I’ll never forget, to be standing in victory lane and to have held off Jeff Gordon with all of the success he’s had here and in our sport,” said Edwards. “It’s just really, really special. I’m living proof that right here that whatever it is you’re doing just keep doing it and don’t ever give up because somehow things can work out. I’m just very fortunate. Literally, I’m a fan of this sport and I grew up watching Jeff Gordon go through those esses and watching how he drove his car, so to be able to hold him off like that means a lot. I’m glad there wasn’t one or two more laps in the race because I don’t know if it would have worked out that way, but it definitely meant a lot to have Jeff Gordon in my mirror.”
Starting from the fourth-spot Crew Chief Jimmy Fennig devised the two-pit stop strategy to start the day which appeared derailed when a yellow came out on lap 30, five laps prior to the planned first stop. Edwards was encouraged to save fuel in hopes that the strategy would remain intact and keep the No.99 Aflac Ford Fusion in contention for the win.
The team continued to stick with its plan, and allowed those on a three stop strategy and fresher tires to make their way up front while holding on until the second pit on lap 70, while running in 23rd. The key moment in the race occurred when a caution came out immediately on lap 71, and much of the field came in, putting Edwards in fourth on the restart.
Another yellow was waved on lap 74, and Edwards continued to save fuel, allowing the strategy to play out. He charged quickly up to second, but the demolition derby continued and another caution came into play on lap 81 as Fennig reassured Edwards that he would be good until the end.
On the final restart the Columbia, Mo. native charged to the front leading 26 laps and taking home his second victory of the season, placing him securely in the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Edwards will return to the track at Kentucky on Saturday, June 28th sitting sixth in points. Coverage of the Quaker State 400 begins at 7:30 pm on TNT.