Tag Archives: Carl Edwards

Edwards claims caution-filled Southern 500

Carl Edwards survived a caution-filled night to capture his first career victory at Darlington Raceway.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver started 13th and struggled the first half of the race. A flat tire derailed his rhythm and put him two laps down. Fast pit stops and strong strategic decisions allowed him to gain one of his laps back. He returned to the lead lap after grabbing the free pass. After that, Edwards and his No. 19 crew put their nose to the grindstone to stay in contention.

Edwards fought against Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, and Denny Hamlin within the last 50 laps to secure the monumental victory. The battles produced tight racing and bounds of excitement. In the end, the final pit stop gave the Columbia, Missouri native an advantage, placing him first with eight laps to go. He took off, and the rest is—figuratively and literally—history.

“I feel like my team needs to be sitting up here with me,” Edwards said in the post-win press conference, adding, “They won this race for me tonight.”

The driver—who was a big advocate in the race’s low-downforce rules package—praised the end-result of the event. He stated he wants other drivers to see the enthusiastic racing he saw and push for the same rules to appear in 2016.

“I hope I never forget those last 25 laps. It was really fun,” he said with a laugh.

The weight of the win isn’t lost on the organization, either. Team owner Joe Gibbs said, “I don’t think you could draw up a bigger win for us.”

This is Edwards’ 25th victory in 398 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts and his second in 2015. It also marked Toyota’s 75th Sprint Cup win.

The Bojangles’ Southern 500’s return to Labor Day weekend was built up to the extreme, complete with a throwback motif. Teams and sponsors arranged paint schemes honoring some of the sport’s pioneers. NASCAR on NBC enlisted legends Ken Squier, Ned Jarrett, and Dale Jarrett to call a portion of Sunday night’s broadcast. Drivers wore vintage-style firesuits. The flashback idea wasn’t the only thing that made the crown jewel race worth watching; the use of the rules package and new tires added another element of unpredictability.

That element of the unknown led to eighteen cautions for a total of 89 laps, a race record. The increase in yellow flags led to another issue—lack of tires. Teams were given 12 sets of tires for the race, and it quickly became apparent that wouldn’t be enough. However, NASCAR refused to offer teams extra sets. Tire management was now the name of the game, and many didn’t play it well. That led to more cautions, making the event longer. The Southern 500 ended right before midnight on the East Coast, four hours and 28 minutes after the green flag.

Although the race was long, it was also full of entertainment and historic markers. The Southern 500’s return to Labor Day lived up to the hype and brought a first-time winner along with it.

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New era for JGR includes Edwards, Suarez, and new sponsors

As a new era begins, an old tradition ceases.

The worst-kept secret in NASCAR was confirmed Tuesday morning at a press conference held by Joe Gibbs Racing. Carl Edwards is set to join the organization in 2015, driving the No. 19. Arris Group Inc., a communications manufacturer that’s new to the sport, will serve as primary sponsor for 17 races.

This ends the long partnership between Edwards and Roush-Fenway Racing. Though the news has been known for months, the truth is that RFR is lacking. With two of their top drivers moving to JGR (Matt Kenseth jumped aboard in 2013), the race team is light-years away from its glory days. The team has been a NASCAR staple and isn’t up to par with the changing times.

Arris will also be on a JGR car full-time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series; the announcement included Daniel Suarez, who will run the entire NNS schedule and some of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races. The company will also be on the hood of a NASCAR Mexico Series machine. This is the first time a sponsor has extended into four series.

Suarez will also have support from Escuderia TELMEX, a Mexican telecommunications company that takes interest in Suarez and his Hispanic background.

Though bittersweet, the announcement brings exciting news that two new sponsors are diving into the sport. NASCAR was lacking in that area, so this is a great sight for not only JGR but for the entire NASCAR community.

Edwards becomes The King of Wine Country amid screwy day

Road course racing is something else. A definite rarity, the sight of stock cars running side-by-side while going left and right always excites fans. It’s new, it’s something different, it’s special.

Sunday’s excursion to Sonoma Raceway met all expectations; not only was it thrilling, but it included spinning, flared tempers, and fuel strategy. It had something for every type of fan, a quality that’s hard to come by nowadays.

Carl Edwards became The King of Wine Country after starting fourth. A factor all afternoon, the driver of the No. 99 had to outrun Jamie McMurray and Jeff Gordon late in the race. He flaunted his quiet-yet-prominent road course expertise and topped it off with his signature back flip.

It’s been a interesting year for Edwards, managing to win twice while fighting off speculation for 2015. The only development on that front is that, due to language in his Roush Fenway Racing contract, he can’t officially say anything until September, though many people already know where he’ll be residing. It’s set to be a replay of the Matt Kenseth decision.

Back to the racing: it was a breath of fresh air. Teammates fought, drivers spun, and crews were yelled at. Spin after spin, you never knew who was next. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished third, caused a few incidents, sending Kenseth into the wall on one occasion. He’s never been the road course racer, so his finish and aggressiveness were equally shocking. The swerving turns brings out the anger in everyone.

With such a great day behind NASCAR, it’s obvious more road courses should be on the schedule. The fact that they refuse to incorporate more hurts the sport; they fail to see the changes that need to be done, and their inability to adapt will eventually make NASCAR obsolete.

As screwy as Sonoma was, it would be nice to see it again. I bet Edwards wouldn’t mind, either.

Point Standings after the Toyota Save Mart 350 (asterisks note how many wins driver has)

1. Jeff Gordon (–)*
2. Jimmie Johnson (-20)***
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-25)**
4. Matt Kenseth (-65)
5. Brad Keselowski (-68)*
6. Carl Edwards (-71)**
7. Joey Logano (-97)**
8. Ryan Newman (-107)
9. Kevin Harvick (-108)**
10. Kyle Larson (-110)
11. Kyle Busch (-115)*
12. Paul Menard (-121)
13. Denny Hamlin (-127)*
14. Clint Bowyer (-128)
15. Greg Biffle (-136)
16. Kasey Kahne (-151)

Silly Speculation: the future of Roush Fenway’s Edwards and Biffle

NASCAR’s Silly Season is infamous for creating drama, and this year is no exception. Two drivers highlight the free agent pool, and they both come from the same organization, Roush Fenway Racing.

Of course, I’m talking about Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle. The veteran members’ contracts are up, and they’re searching for new rides. Pressure has mounted as RFR announced Trevor Bayne’s move to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series side. With him in the No. 6 and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the No. 17, people want to know what this means for Edwards and Biffle.

Edwards is definitely out; it’s nearly official that he’ll be racing at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2015. It was either JGR or Team Penske, and Penske is adamant that they will only field two cars next year. It’s only a matter of time before this is announced.

Attention is now turning to The Biff, who’s lips are sealed. That, however, doesn’t silent other speculators. The rumblings create two scenarios: Biffle stays at Roush, or he heads to Michael Waltrip Racing. In this article on NBC Sports’ MotorSportsTalk, FOX’s pre-race before Dover showed some intriguing word usage by Darrell Waltrip about his brother Michael’s team.

Although DW mentioned Edwards to Penske (which is not true), the body language is something to ponder. Co-owner Robert Kauffman’s tweet is something to think about, too. Wherever Biffle wants to go is great, but he needs to pick it up this season. I think many people can agree on that.

As the Silly Season begins, it’s time for jumping to conclusions and reading into statements and press releases. Don’t worry, it’s going to get even more crazy as the summer goes on.

Bizarre Bristol proves to be no match for Edwards and Fennig

Mother Nature is obviously a NASCAR hater (Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images).
Mother Nature is obviously a NASCAR hater (Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images).

Bristol Motor Speedway is a stop everyone looks forward to, whether it’s the night race or not. Sunday was circled on calendars across NASCAR nation as the one to watch.

It was also known as the one that may not happen. The days leading up to the race were filled with depressing forecasts. Many displayed ‘100%’ next to rainy cloud icons. It turned out to impact attendance greatly; the stand were bare once we went racing after the first rain delay.

Yes, “the first” rain delay. Just wait.

The field has made it 129 laps, with a special competition caution at lap 50, when the rain appeared again. When it rains, it pours, and this time was no exception.

Can we all collectively say, “UGH!” right now? Okay, good.

It was a long, tedious rain delay, one filled with Fox filler material and awkward interviews. When the allotted TV time ended at 6 p.m. ET, it was announced that the race would be shown on Fox Sports 1 once it resumed. Fox Sports plans on airing some NASCAR events on FS1 next season, so it was a preview of sorts.

Fans were outraged, many not getting the channel. The upset was understandable, but that’s something to discuss with the network provider. Nothing is more annoying than seeing people tweet their frustration to the official Fox Twitter account. The person behind the account is a paid PR person; they can’t do anything about executive decisions such as moving the broadcast to a different channel. NASCAR fans, your passion is admirable, but it needs to be toned down for the sake of others.

The race finally resumed around 7 p.m. ET, giving us a rare Spring night race at The Last Great Coliseum. Under the lights? Drivers worried about rain showers popping up? This was bound to be interesting.

In the end, ‘interesting’ was a humongous understatement. The racing was better than ever, a breath of fresh air. Passing, lead changes, three-wide; it was almost too much to handle.

Some insane moments from the event included Timmy Hill plowing into Matt Kenseth’s back end while under caution. That somehow helped Kenseth get back into contention until tire issues plagued his comeback.

Near the end of the race, Kevin Harvick suffered from a tire rub. He ended up in the wall, yet drove his car back to the garage, where it proceeded to catch on fire.

Even before the rain delay, something was off; Alex Bowman’s battery fell onto the track, ruining the rookie’s day. How does that happen?

Speaking of rookies, one showed up, along with a few younger drivers. Kyle Larson was competitive all night, securing a 10th-place finish. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Aric Almirola finished in the top three, duking it out late in the race.

If you want to talk about surprises, though, look at fourth place, and you’ll find Tony Stewart. Smoke has risen and found his Happy Place, which is a good thing considering the rest of Stewart-Haas Racing was stricken with problems. (Also, every time you ask him how his leg feels, Taylor Swift writes another song. Don’t bring it up again.)

The winner, you may ask? Carl Edwards, who pulled off a top-five finish last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, kept the momentum going with help from crew chief Jimmy Fennig. The No. 99 team decided to stay out through two cycles of pit stops, which sounded like a questionable thing to do. It turned out to be a stroke of brilliance.

Edwards was putting on a clinic, and it was three to go when the caution lights around the racetrack flicked on. When people asked NASCAR what the caution was for, all they received in return were shrugs. NASCAR later explained that a flag person leaned on a switch and turned the lights on. The flagman then reacted. Oops.

As they rode around, preparing for a green-white-checkered, the clouds opened up yet again. Rain pelted the track, and the race was called. The abrupt ending couldn’t overshadow the amazing racing, though.

Point Standings after the Food City 500

1. Brad Keselowski (–)
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-10)
3. Carl Edwards (-11)
4. Jeff Gordon (-12)
5. Jimmie Johnson (-20)
6. Joey Logano (-22)
7. Denny Hamlin (-23)
8. Matt Kenseth (-25)
9. Ryan Newman (-38)
10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (-41)
11. Kasey Kahne (-42)
12. Greg Biffle (-45)
13. Austin Dillon (-46)
14. Kyle Busch (-52)
15. Marcos Ambrose (-55)
16. Jamie McMurray (-63)

FAN REACTION: As mentioned before, fans were less than thrilled that Fox Sports 1 took over race duties. As mentioned before, cut them some slack; we should be thankful they stuck with the rain delay as long as they did.

However, all of NASCAR nation can agree on one thing: Bristol was bizarre, having a 2012 Daytona 500 feel.

Under the lights? Drivers worried about rain showers popping up? Random cautions due to electronic malfunctions?

For the most part, it was a successful day, and Carl Edwards was a successful racecar driver.

The Sweet Sixteen: Predicting The Chase field

NASCAR’s new system for The Chase makes me wonder who will make up the 16-man shootout. As always, the ten final races will help determine the champion, but the process of getting in that position? Win. The emphasis on taking the checkered flag will heighten competitiveness, and it will be a brawl 70% of the time. The other 30% will be taken up by strategy and “points racing,” if there is such a thing this time around. To say it will be interesting is a large understatement.

I have decided to predict the points reset that we’ll see at the beginning of The Chase, where drivers are arranged by number of wins. In my mock field, I have 14 different winners, the final two spots being selected by ranking after the final regular season race at Richmond International Raceway. There won’t be one clear dominator, and some surprising faces will steal wins.

Without further ado, here’s my list, with the number of races won in the regular season in parentheses:

The 2014 Chase Standings going into Chicagoland Speedway

1. Jimmie Johnson (4)
2. Denny Hamlin (4)
3. Kyle Busch (3)
4. Kevin Harvick (3)
5. Matt Kenseth (2)
6. Kasey Kahne (2)
7. Brad Keselowski (1)
8. Carl Edwards (1)
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1)
10. Ryan Newman (1)
11. Kurt Busch (1)
12. Martin Truex Jr. (1)
13. Tony Stewart (1)
14. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (1)
15. Jeff Gordon (0)
16. Austin Dillon (0)

Now, before you start thinking I’m a total nut job, allow me to explain myself.

The top four are sure-fire threats. Johnson’s position at the top needs no elaboration. He’s a monster and the best, enough said. Hamlin is hell-bent on bringing himself back into the spotlight, a comeback needed after the rollercoaster he was on last year. He’s a dog who won’t release a toy from its jaws, no matter how hard its owner tugs and yanks on the opposite end. Busch is the same way; nothing can deter him from winning, not even a physical car on-track. He’ll move you out of the way and not feel sorry for it. Another driver who can do that is Harvick. He’s always aggressive, but he’s smart about who and when to push. There’s no doubt these four will be fighting each other, but their personalities will, too.

It’s hard to predict a slump, but there’s no way Kenseth can top what he accomplished last year. He’ll be competitive, sure. Dominating the regular season? Easier said than done. Kahne battled numerous times against the No. 20 and ended up on the losing side. His success with Hendrick Motorsports has been difficult to come by, and a seed in The Chase standings is crucial for survival. Speaking of surviving, previous champion Keselowski has barely done that, not making the finals last year and struggling to the extreme. It’s time for him to buckle down and get back at it. The finals standings last year left a bitter taste in Edwards’ mouth, yet that won’t stop him from charging on. This group is in a collective lull, but they’ll get a kick in the rear once the season gets going.

Yup, Earnhardt Jr. will win a race this year, locking him into the playoffs. The desire will be boosted by the impending departure of crew chief Steve Letarte; he’ll want to send this career-changing element off with a smile on his face. As that partnership ends at the end of 2014, a new one begins with Newman and Richard Childress Racing. The tenacity the No. 31 now has is undeniable, admirable, and irrevocable. One bullheaded driver that’s bound to make the cut is the eldest Busch, who has finally found stability at Stewart-Haas Racing. It’s crazy to believe he has been with four different teams in the past four years, but this will be a time to prove himself. Shocking everyone will be Truex, in the team that helped Busch overcome so much last time around. It will be redemption when he gets into Victory Lane. All these racers are searching for a win to validate the changes in their professional careers.

Being out of a racecar for a long period of time is what Stewart is fighting against, and he’s not going to give up easily. However, it’s going to be difficult relearning and falling back into the motions. Stenhouse showed a lot of muscles last year, winning a pole and contending for a few wins. He’s the one most likely to sneak a win. It’s hard to believe that Gordon won’t win a race, but that’s the sad truth; he’ll make The Chase with a big goose egg in the ‘win’ column. This old dog needs to learn some new tricks to be considered competitive. Finally, the man everyone’s been talking about, Austin Dillon. Inexperience will effect his chances at winning, but his courage can get him in the title talk. What would be better than seeing the No. 3 contend for a championship?

With this new format, it’s a free-for-all; any of the drivers I’ve listed could win the title. The Chase is off in a distance, but making yourself eligible starts just around the corner.

Hamlin succeeds as Sprint Unlimited kicks off Speedweeks with a Bang

Speedweeks is the prelude to the impending start to the NASCAR season, and its first event is the Sprint Unlimited. Formerly known as the Bud Shootout, the exhibition event is made up of pole winners from 2013 and pervious winners of the race. The lack of points creates the tone of an exciting, fun spectacle for drivers and fans.

Only this time, nobody thought it would get this weird.

The night began with the reveal of segment lengths. Fans were allowed to vote on how many laps comprised each section, along with deciding how the lineup would be chosen for the start and final part of the race. With 30 laps, 25 laps, and 20 laps being chosen, it was time to determine where everyone would start. Final practice times would be the way to go, placing Denny Hamlin on the pole.

The first 30 laps were full of shuffling and trying to establish the bottom line. As things began to wind down, the first domino fell; Jimmie Johnson spun out and hit the inside barrier, trashing his car and drawing a caution on the last lap of the segment. The reigning champion took it to the garage and called it a night before it really began. He was running second at the time of the incident.

Order at the End of Segment One

1. Denny Hamlin
2. Kevin Harvick
3. Joey Logano
4. Kurt Busch
5. Carl Edwards
6. Brad Keselowski
7. Matt Kenseth
8. Ryan Newman
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
10. Jeff Gordon
11. Marcos Ambrose
12. Kyle Busch
13. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
14. Danica Patrick
15. Tony Stewart
16. Jamie McMurray
OUT: Jimmie Johnson (accident on lap 29), Terry Labonte (start and park)

It didn’t take long for more excitement to follow. Eight laps into Segment Two, Kenseth drove across Logano’s hood, then came back up the track to cause a nine-car wreck. Among the carnage rested Stewart, Gordon, the eldest Busch, and Edwards. The focus settled on Patrick, who avoided the wreck and would’ve been clear if it weren’t for Stenhouse Jr.; as she recovered from a self-induced spin, something stuck on the No. 17, and he plowed into her machine. Because the two are currently dating, it created a lot of talk. Harvick retreated to pit road for repairs and returned. At the end, the air was thick, and there was more mischief up ahead. With only nine cars still in the running.

Order at the End of Segment Two

1. Denny Hamlin
2. Brad Keselowski
3. Kyle Busch
4. Jamie McMurray
5. Marcos Ambrose
6. Joey Logano
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
8. Ryan Newman
9. Kevin Harvick
OUT: Danica Patrick, Tony Stewart, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards (accident on lap 38), Jimmie Johnson (accident on lap 29), Terry Labonte (start and park)

At this time, the fans chose to write in a mandatory two-tire pit stop, and the race off pit road set the final restart order. Everyone was ready to keep the excitement going, and the (small) field was ready to take the green when a small mishap occurred. The full moon was taking the race to a whole new level; a fire had sparked in the back of the Chevy SS pace car. As the backup was brought out, people realized this was actually happening.

When the cars finally took the green, it was a nine-car shootout. Drivers sliced and diced as they put on a show, although they were cutting it close. The remaining Busch brother got loose and made yet another elaborate save with 15 laps to go, proving he is the ultimate wheelman. Six laps later, Earnhardt Jr. and Ambrose tangled, giving the No. 88 car race-ending damage.

In the end, Hamlin came out on top in what was a dominant performance by Daytona standards. There is no doubt it was a beautiful start to a season full of goals and redemption.

As for the event itself, it was a fantastic way to kick off the 2014 NASCAR season. The Daytona 500 now has expectations to fulfill.

Order at the End of Segment Three/Finishing Order

1. Denny Hamlin
2. Brad Keselowski
3. Kyle Busch
4. Joey Logano
5. Kevin Harvick
6. Jamie McMurray
7. Marcos Ambrose
8. Ryan Newman
OUT: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (accident on lap 66), Danica Patrick, Tony Stewart, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards (accident on lap 38), Jimmie Johnson (accident on lap 29), Terry Labonte (start and park)