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Edwards Slams Wall, Busch At Charlotte

Deb Williams | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, October 14 2011

Carl Edwards' car took a beating at Charlotte Motor Speedway Friday night but it came home a winner. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Brian Lawdermilk)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

CONCORD, N.C. – Carl Edwards’ victory chances in Friday’s Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage appeared to have been extinguished only 32 laps into the event when his Ford pancaked the wall exiting Charlotte Motor Speedway’s fourth turn. However, the Missouri driver envisioned a different ending.

With five laps remaining, Edwards was second to Kyle Busch who elected the outside on the restart following the seventh and final caution flag. That meant Roush-Fenway Racing teammate Trevor Bayne would line up behind Edwards and Elliott Sadler would fall in behind Busch. When the green flag waved, instead of attempting to make it three wide, Bayne shoved his teammate into the lead and Edwards held on to defeat Busch by 0.223 second.

“If Trevor hadn’t given me that push down into turn one, if he hadn’t tucked in behind us and put us out there in front, I think we would have had a really hard time holding Kyle off on the top,” Edwards said after his eighth victory this season and 37th of his career, tying him with Kevin Harvick for third on the all-time list.

Edwards said his Ford was the “best it had been all night” at the race’s conclusion, but no one would have believed that to be the case due to the car’s extensive damage. When

Carl Edwards holds off Kyle Busch at the end of Friday night's Nationwide Series race. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Brian Lawdermilk)

Edwards smacked the wall on lap 32 of the 200-lap race on the 1.5-mile track, it flattened the car’s right side, knocked the right rear quarter panel off and messed up the car’s toe.

“It hadn’t totally configured the car to where we couldn’t work on it,” crew chief Mike Beam said. “We tired to seal up the crush panels, but luckily the toe wasn’t too bad. It kind of fixed what we were fighting, so we got lucky there. Carl just drove his guts out there and luckily we won the race.”

Even team owner Jack Roush was amazed the Ford Mustang made it to victory lane.

“We put all the engineering in the cars and we got all the manufacturing quality variance to make sure that we can make them the same,” Roush said. “Carl wrecked his car today and the car decided that it wouldn’t give up, so I’m gonna talk to that car. I may give that car a kiss tonight before I go to bed. That car had heart. It was bent and it was aerodynamically not sound and it was mechanically not intact, and it stood up under Carl and carried him to a victory.

“Mike thought about trying to repair the toe-in, but it seemed like it was running pretty good. Mike and I agree that we think maybe the toe-in business we’ve got on our Goodyear tires maybe is not where we need to be now, anyway, this look, as far as the alignment is concerned, (is) more like what we had five or 10 years ago.”

Beam said extensive measurements would be taken on the car Monday.

After Edwards hit the wall, he found himself 27th in the 43-car field. He spent the rest of the night fighting his way to the front. Edwards had returned to the top 10 for good with 90 laps remaining, but the final five laps were the only ones he led.

“I was pretty surprised at how fast it was after it hit the fence,” Edwards said after collecting his second Nationwide Series victory at CMS. “I slowed down for a lap or two just to kind of make sure nothing was gonna fall off and we got back going and it was fast. It’s pretty impressive that we could run into the wall that hard and the car would still go. We came down and put tires on it and fixed the body as best they could and it was screaming fast.”

Busch, who led twice for 26 laps, maintained he got “out-motored” at the end. However, Edwards and Roush disagreed.

“We’ve all got the same parameters,” Roush said. “We’ve all got the same deck height, all got the same camshaft dimensions and valve sizes. The Ford was at a disadvantage in those things for years before we got the FR9 going last year. The Toyotas don’t have the advantage over the Fords that they did before. Right now there is no reason to change the engines. They all have the same parameters and it’s a matter of what carburetor jets you put in it and how much ignition timing you put to it.”

Edwards said he viewed Busch’s remark as a “political” statement to try and return Ford to a disadvantage.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 car driven by Busch now leads Edwards’ No. 60 car by a mere three points in the car owner standings. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. leads Sadler in the driver standings by 15 points with three races remaining.

– Deb Williams can be reached at dwilliams@racintoday.com

Deb Williams | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, October 14 2011
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