Late Race Strategy Key to Top Ten Finish at Kansas for Edwards
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (May 10, 2014) – Carl Edwards headed to Kansas Speedway looking for win number one at his home track. The No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion started from the fourth-spot and remained solidly inside the top-five for the beginning of the race, opting to stay out with the leaders while most of the field came down pit road under cautions. This strategy ultimately resulted in the Roush Fenway Racing driver ending up a lap down, but crew chief Jimmy Fennig made some key calls late in the day to gain positions on pit road and put Edwards in the sixth-spot when the checkered waved.
“That wasn’t what we were looking for,” said Edwards. “We needed one more restart. I found a little of the line up top. Jimmy did a great job with our Aflac Fusion. He made some big adjustments and our strategy didn’t work the first half. The second half it was good though. I wanted a better showing for these guys here. So many people come support me at this race but congrats to Jeff (Gordon), he has run well enough and deserves that win. We will go to the next track, but man do I want to win this thing.”
Edwards began the rain-delayed 5-hour Energy 400 in fourth and would quickly jump up to third where he held his ground before coming down pit road during green flag stops at lap 43. After the yellow came out on laps 59 and 70 of the 267 lap race, Fennig made the call to stay out and hold on to track position. Sitting in fourth this placed Edwards on the same fuel plan as the three cars in front of him.
Eventually the Columbia, MO native was forced to pit under green on lap 102, but not until running a few laps from the top spot as the leaders came in. To the dismay of Edwards, a caution came out shortly thereafter and placed the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion a lap down in 23rd.
Although the initial strategy may have backfired, the team was able to gain positions on pit road by taking two tires under yellow on lap 180, jumping four spots from 17th to 13th. Fennig then decided to stay out on lap 202, placing Edwards back inside the top ten.
The NASCAR champion quickly wheeled his way up to the sixth-spot and stayed out for as long as possible as the leaders came in under green as the number of laps remaining began to dwindle. After leading for a few laps again, Edwards hoped that a final strategy play to take two tires during his last stop of the day would help him to gain even more ground.
Edwards made a solid run at the end of the day, finishing in the sixth spot, and holding onto his fifth place points position.
Next up for Edwards and the No. 99 team is the Sprint All Star Race on Saturday, May 17th. Coverage from Charlotte Motor Speedway begins at 9:00 PM ET on Fox Sports 1.