Edwards Finishes 20th at Chicagoland Speedway in First Race of the Chase
JOLIET, Ill. (Sep. 14, 2014) –Edwards started out his week by spending Wednesday in Mexico City in the Chase Across North America and then joining in on the celebrations for the Sprint Cup in downtown Chicago on Thursday with the other 16 challengers. The No. 99 Fastenal was fast right off the hauler at Chicagoland and ran in the top-five for all three practices on the 1.5-mile oval. It was cold and raining on Friday, which caused qualifying to be canceled and starting positions to be set by the NASCAR rule book. On Sunday Edwards started in third and jumped into second on the first lap, but he got tight across the center and very loose off within the first 16 laps. Crew Chief Jimmy Fennig and the Fastenal crew tried air, shim and wedge adjustments to tighten their Ford Fusion, but unfortunately he started dropping back and ran between 14th and 22nd the majority of the race. When the checkered flag flew after a hard fought battle, Edwards crossed the start/finish line in 20th place.
“What a battle all day”, stated Edwards. “We used up every bit of our track position and our strategy and everything. We had a flat tire and got fortunate that didn’t hurt us, it might have helped us. We have to stay alive. We have to go to Loudon and hopefully our flat short track program is better than this. Then we will take what we learned here to Dover. To make this second round we will have to be perfect and have a little bit of luck. Our day was not good. We’ve got to be a little faster and we have to continue to have good luck. For us to advance we are going to have to rely on other people making some mistakes. All the while we are looking for more speed from our Fastenal Ford, and if we can do that I think we will be alright, but we have to stay afloat.”
Edwards started out of the blocks fast and jumped into second place at the start of the 267-mile race. Around lap 16 his Fastenal Ford became tight in the center and very loose off. This made it very hard to drive and Edwards started falling back, by lap 49 through one green flag pit stop he had fallen out of the top-10.
The Fastenal Blue Team made giant changes to include removing shims, air and big swings on the trackbar between lap 50 and 160 while keeping Edwards on the lead lap.
Edwards went down a lap on lap 161 while in the 21st position. Fennig tried more wedge and air adjustments to tighten their Ford. He hovered around 22nd and on lap 330 Edwards reported a tire going down as the fourth caution flag flew. Edwards was already committed to pit and entered pit road too early. The team was able to change left-sides only and had to come back in again for right-sides. Edwards battled a very loose Ford over the remainder of the race and when Edwards crossed the start/finish line he ended up in 20th position one lap down.
Edwards and the No. 99 team travel to New Hampshire Motor Speedway next weekend for the Sylvania 300. The race is set for Sunday, Sept. 21. Coverage will begin at 2 p.m. (EST) on ESPN.