SPRINT Pennsylvania 500Final
Pit strategy gives Edwards win at PoconoAug 4, 2008 - 1:01 AM LONG POND, Pennsylvania (Ticker) -- Carl Edwards certainly had an eventful and trying day at Pocono Raceway.
He argued with his crew chief, overcame torrential downpour and nearly saw a checkered flag slip through his fingers.
But Edwards ultimately emerged victorious in Sunday's rain-plagued Pennsylvania 500, using a tactical pit strategy gamble to claim his fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win this season.
"There's nothing like winning," Edwards said. "I remember sitting here in 2005 and just, this track is real gratifying to win here. A lot of really great drivers have done very well here and it just means a lot to be on the list of people who have won here. (Crew chief) Bob (Osborne) did a great job. I wasn't so sure about halfway through when we were yelling at each other, but Bob did an unbelievable job."
"Carl and I, I don't know what the perception is, but we argue on a regular basis," Osborne added. "It's not out of the ordinary for us to argue. We get mad at each other. We walk away and then we walk back together and calmer heads prevail and we have a discussion."
It was the 11th career victory for Edwards, who finished nearly four seconds ahead of Tony Stewart to win at Pocono's 2 1/2-mile oval for the second time in his career.
"That was just unbelievable," Edwards said. "Bob and I were really arguing. I'm trying to make a little light of it, but we thought we'd made the wrong call but I just can't thank my guys enough and everybody for hanging tough."
Edwards' Ford was in front with 73 laps remaining when rain started dampening the track, prompting the Missouri native and the rest of the leaders to pit under a caution.
"It was a little stressful at moments," Osborne said. "The rain comes and we're not sure what we wanted to do. We talked about what we would do if the rain cleared up and they got the track dried and that's what we ended up doing."
The decision almost proved costly, as NASCAR officials red-flagged the race four laps later with Kasey Kahne in the lead.
"I had to walk away, but, personally, I feel like we have a really good relationship," Edwards said. "We can be brutally honest with one another and that's really valuable. There's no beating around the bush. If Bob feels a certain way about something, he tells me and I tell him and, to me, that's really valuable."
During the 41-minute rain delay, Edwards angrily confronted Osborne, who called for the pit stop. But nearly two hours later, Edwards praised his crew chief's decision.
"I thought we made the wrong call," said Edwards, who also won the June race here in 2005. "I was feeling really nervous. Bob is the smartest guy in the world. We were really arguing. We made light of it, but we thought we made the wrong call."
It turned out to be the right call, as Edwards had just enough fuel to methodically make his way back to the front when Mark Martin pitted for fuel with 13 laps remaining.
Edwards, who climbed to third in the series standings, fended off a comeback attempt from Stewart's Toyota with three laps left.
"We have to win right now and we can't give up opportunities to win races," Edwards said. "That's what was so heartbreaking about last week is to finish so close to winning. Everybody pats you on the back and says, 'Great run,' but at this point in our season, that's not what we're out to do."
But as several of the leaders ran out of fuel on the final lap, Edwards coasted across the finish line to end a grueling five-hour race that featured seven cautions and 25 lead changes.
Jimmie Johnson sputtered to a third-place finish despite having essentially no fuel remaining in his Chevrolet.
Kevin Harvick, who crashed on the opening lap, ran fourth in a Chevy while David Ragan's Ford rounded out the top five. Clint Bowyer, Kahne, Martin, Jamie McMurray and Jeff Gordon completed the top 10.
"(The car) was real good," said Kahne, who led 41 laps. "I'm not sure how good Carl was at the end, but our Budweiser Dodge Charger was definitely a second- or third-place car. Carl had the best car today, but we weren't far off of him. With a little more luck with the cautions, we probably had the car to beat."
Series points leader Kyle Busch ran 36th in a Toyota while Kurt Busch, last year's race winner, finished 38th in a Dodge.
- Pennsylvania 500 Preview Jul 29