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Edwards' All-Star finish leaves him with regrets

May 17, 2014, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com

Edwards looks back on the final restart that cost him the win

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CONCORD, N.C. – Carl Edwards was in the perfect position to run away with Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and collect a $1 million paycheck.
 

Out front on a restart with 10 laps remaining at Charlotte Motor Speedway, in a car that had been more than capable for much of the night.

But Edwards couldn't hold off Jamie McMurray, then began to slip back as the final laps of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race played out, eventually finishing fifth in the non-points event.

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"Can we talk about anything else?" Edwards said, only half-joking, as he emerged from his Roush Fenway Racing hauler. "Man, that's frustrating."

Edwards spent several minutes after the race watching replays of the final restart, trying to determine what, if anything, he could have done differently.

McMurray, the race winner, "just did a perfect job on the start," he said. "I had him cleared. If I had pulled in front of him in Turn 1, if I had gone high, I think we would have won that race. But I was just so reluctant to give up the bottom. 

"Jamie just did a perfect job; he ended up sweeping around the outside, dragging me down and it was a drag race. ... I drove as hard as I could while he was on the outside and he gave me just enough room to not wreck me but still beat me." 

The 2011 winner of the All-Star Race, Edwards started Saturday's 90-lap event on the pole after posting the fastest speed during a three-lap qualifying effort -- one that included a four-tire pit stop. 

After leading the first nine laps, he was fifth at the end of the first 20-lap segment, and restarted sixth after his pit stop. 

Edwards regained the top spot at lap 34, and led nine laps, but had slipped to third at the end of segment No. 2. The end of the third segment found him 13th, but emerged from the pits in eighth. 

His No. 99 Ford was 10th at the end of the fourth and final 20-lap segment. Based on average finishing position of the completed segments, he entered the pits for the final time in fifth. 

He came out with the lead. Followed by McMurray, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kensethand Jimmie Johnson.

"It was an awesome job by my guys," Edwards said. "If I had to do it over again, I'd do it differently, but that's racing. You've just got to make the best decision you can and move on. It's a really tough one, though. 

"Our restarts had been great all night, and I wouldn't have even been in that position if it weren't for my crew. We went from fifth to first in the pits, so my ... guys did perfectly. They did a great job on pit road. Jimmy (Fennig, crew chief) made great calls." 

Once he lost the lead to McMurray, Edwards said it was questionable whether he could maintain his position. Eventually Harvick made the move around him, as did Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr

"Our car was not that fast back in traffic, but I think out front we could have held them off," he said. "I was really looking forward to leading after that restart. I don't know if they would have gotten by us, but that's easy to say. I wouldn't have been in that position if it weren't for my pit crew. I just hate that I wasn't able to take what they did ... and turn it into a win."

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