News & Media

Edwards pleased more for Kenseth than himself

February 28, 2012, Dave Rodman,

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Daytona 500 pole winner Carl Edwards should've been over the moon after he finished eighth Tuesday morning after suffering a penalty and severe crash damage in the last fifth of the race.

It was a better start to the season than Edwards, the 2011 Sprint Cup championship runner-up, thought he was headed for with just less than 40 laps to go.

Make no mistake, Edwards was thrilled with his comeback. But he was happier to visit Roush Fenway Racing teammate Matt Kenseth in Victory Lane after his second Daytona 500 win in the past four years.

"I'm just really glad Matt ended up in Victory Lane -- that's huge for Roush Fenway, for Ford, for [Kenseth sponsor] Best Buy," Edwards said. "That's as big as it gets, and it ended up OK for us, too -- for everything that we went through with the penalties and tearing the nose off of it. To finish eighth is huge."

Edwards' praise is even more significant in consideration of where he and Kenseth were little more than four years ago. The images of a pseudo scuffle at Martinsville after the fall race linger -- even though Edwards more recently has gone out of his way to commune more readily with his team leader.

"This is perfect for Matt," said Edwards, referring to Kenseth's 2009 500 win that came in a rain-shortened event. "This is what he deserves. He's a hard-core racer and he's a good man. I'm really happy for him and his whole family.

"I've learned a lot about Matt Kenseth the last four or five years and he's a really, really good guy."

Monday night, Edwards learned a race is never over until the checkered flag waves. He started from the pole, but quickly slid back through the field and spent much more time mid-pack than near the front.

Under a red flag with 40 laps left, Edwards' car chief, Pierre Kuettel, removed a windshield tear-off -- which was not allowed under the stoppage -- and Edwards and Kyle Busch, who did the same thing, were sent to the rear, or 28th spot.

"I asked PK [Kuettel] if we could pull the tear-off and he said, 'yes,'" Edwards said. "And as soon as he pulled it the NASCAR official started saying a lot of things. It wasn't good, but our Fastenal Fusion was fast."

That was a good thing. Edwards actually hadn't made up much ground when he was swept up in a frontstretch wreck with 11 laps remaining that involved former Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray, defending Cup Series champion Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne.

After that restart Edwards was still only 12th but he kept struggling and, when another frontstretch wreck produced a green-white-checkered finish, Edwards delivered.

"We got back up to eighth with a little bit of a torn-up car," Edwards said. "But this is huge for Ford. It's a great start and it couldn't happen to a better guy. Matt Kenseth deserves this win."

And Edwards didn't waste any time looking back.

"I think after that caution [at lap 158 of 200] we were ready to go hard and then we had that penalty and we had to go back," Edwards said. "That kind of screwed up our strategy, but that's OK. You can never say shoulda, woulda -- because we very well could be wrecked.

"So I'm happy as far as heading in the right direction."