News & Media

Edwards fashions miraculous result at Kansas

October 09, 2011, Dave Rodman,

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- No. 99 struggled with handling all day but was able to battle and finish fifth

It took Carl Edwards one corner of Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 to know his team was in serious trouble at Kansas Speedway.

"That's the worst the car has felt in a race for a long time," Edwards said.

Two thumbs up

Carl Edwards said his fifth-place finish "felt like a win" and was all smiles post-race at Kansas.

But 272 laps later, after Edwards, crew chief Bob Osborne and their No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford crew came back from a half-day running around 20th position -- sometimes a lap down and never in the top 10 until the very end -- to finish fifth and regain sole possession of the Sprint Cup championship lead, summing it up wasn't hard.

"I feel like I won," Edwards said as he walked amidst a group of fans, going from pit road to the infield media center.

With his comeback, Edwards -- who came into the race tied in points with Kevin Harvick but in second based on the first tiebreaker of most wins -- is now one point ahead of Harvick. The icing on that cake came when Edwards passed Harvick on the last lap to take the lead. Neither man led a lap Sunday.

"We were very fortunate -- I do not deserve to be sitting up here," Edwards said. "We've messed-up enough in the past that I'm proud of our ability to keep plugging along. Maybe it's a test to see if anyone melts down ..."

It didn't happen Sunday, even if Osborne swore after the race that "we were gonna be happy with a 15th, to be honest with you -- at least I was.

"Dire straits, definitely, early-on in the race [and] we didn't anticipate getting a fifth out of it, that's for sure," Osborne said. "But this No. 99 crew put their heads down and did all the adjustments I asked them to do, in a timely fashion. We didn't lose a lot of spots on pit road under green, when we had to make adjustments.

"They got all the adjustments done under yellow that I asked 'em to do and Carl got up on the wheel and made things happen that I think most people can't."

Edwards, who had expressed before the race how much he wanted to win the Sprint Cup race that's currently held closest to his home in Columbia, Mo., was purely thankful afterward.

"That's the most we've done with a car that wasn't capable of winning ever, so I'm really proud of my guys who made good adjustments," Edwards said. "I cannot believe from the way the day started, to finish like that is spectacular."

Osborne wouldn't speak to the championship ramifications any more than would Edwards, who said "I feel like there'll be more moments that define this championship. There's so much racing left -- there's been four races, it feels like 400."

"I can't yet say if this was or wasn't [a championship-caliber performance]," Osborne said. "But you can't knock the performance that the boys had [Sunday]. Nobody got their heads down, nobody got frustrated -- everybody stayed focused and did what had to be done to get the best finish possible and I'm very happy about that."

Edwards started the race on the outside of the front row, next to RFR teammate Greg Biffle, who raced away from Edwards and the field at the start to lead the first 20 laps. Losing a chance to lead was the least of Edwards' problems. He fell back as far as 25th before 100 laps were run as he and Osborne struggled to right the ship.

"There were a couple adjustments we made that really helped the car -- two critical stops," Osborne said. "Unfortunately, we would've liked to have done those adjustments more, but we didn't have enough caution pit stops to be able to do that type of adjustment."

The race was slowed only six times by cautions, and only two of those flew in the first 200 laps.

Osborne said he knew what had happened to the car, but with a smile declined to discuss it. Edwards plainly confessed to his role.

"We had the wrong front suspension settings in the car," Edwards said. "Bob and I, together in practice, we prepared the wrong set-up, and they dropped the green and I realized we were in deep trouble."

But they persevered to the point that, when Jeff Gordon's engine broke, bringing out a caution coming to what should have been the white flag at Lap 266, Osborne's men executed a two-tire stop that left Edwards thanking them profusely for putting him 10th with two laps to go.

At the white flag, Edwards was sixth, and he made up one more spot on the last lap, leading to Osborne's unabashed statement of praise.

"We were very fortunate with the late race caution and being able to have a shot to run up there through the traffic," Edwards said modestly. "We should have finished 15th or 20th, so it all worked out in our favor."

But there was no chance the Roush pair would rest on their good fortune. The crew chief who, like Edwards never exhibited a crack or much of a tone change in his voice on the radio, didn't even wait to leave pit road after Edwards finished his immediate media obligations, to continue discussing set-up options for next week at Charlotte.

As Edwards fielded fans' autograph requests on his way to the media center, he and Osborne never stopped exchanging ideas on what they might do to avoid being where they started the day Sunday.

"That's the first thing Bob and I talked about when he got over to the car is making sure we did not make the same type of mistake at Charlotte," Edwards said. "That place has been a little bit difficult for us. We've been very hit and miss there, but we've got a baseline strategy with the set-up, and we'll go use that, and hopefully it'll work out better than [Sunday's] set-up."