Ford conquers Sonoma for first time in 12 years
June 23, 2014, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com
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SONOMA, Calif. – It had been 12 years since a Ford last won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway and 17 long years since legendary Ford team owner Jack Roush visited victory circle here.
So while health-conscious Carl Edwards declined the traditional sip of victory wine in the post-race celebration Sunday in Northern California's wine country, his Roush Fenway Racing team certainly offered their figurative "cheers."
Not only did Edwards' maiden win on this challenging road course achieve a personal goal for driver, it served notice that the team is still a player in the championship hunt, stopping a five-race winning streak by Chevy's Hendrick Motorsports.
"We've really enjoyed our success in road racing," Roush said. "(Former team driver) Mark Martin was a good road racer and of course the Trans-Am and SCCA programs and the IMSA programs. … it was always a lot of fun to do that.
"So there's an expectation on my part."
Interestingly, Edwards said there wasn't necessarily a firm expectation on his part. And perhaps as meaningful as the trophy is for him, was that his No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion had to hold off five-time Sonoma winner Jeff Gordon to earn it.
"Every year is different," said Edwards. "You come out here and there are always people who figure something out. There's so much time between races that it leaves a lot of room for innovation and improvement, so you never really know what to expect."
Interesting and perplexing, Edwards scored his -- and the team's -- second victory on a track where the team hadn't had recent success. Yet the organization has struggled this season at places like last week's venue Michigan, where it typically wins.
"These two guys (Roush and crew chief Jimmy Fenning) sitting next to me they give everything they've got all the time and even though we're not obviously running as well as we want at bigger tracks, like Jack said, we prepared for this race the very best we could and we'll prepare for (next week's stop) Kentucky the best we can," Edwards said.
"From my perspective what I see as a driver, is just everybody working very hard and we get the results on the days when we can. But I hope it picks up the organization a little bit -- this win -- from last week because that was really the low point of the season, in my opinion."
None of the three Roush-Fenway drivers finished better than 20th last week at Michigan and Edwards hasn't had a top-10 since Charlotte nearly a month ago.
Asked after the race at Sonoma if his two wins (also at Bristol, Tenn.) are reflective of his unwavering commitment to the team despite rumors swirling he would live Roush Fenway at year's end, Edwards was firm.
"We come out here and race every week and the mission is to win the championship, so for me it's really simple," Edwards said. "I just have to give the best I can every week and that's it."