Mar 16, 2014, 9:34 PM EDT
Carl Edwards and Roush Fenway Racing rolled the dice on strategy last weekend at Las Vegas and got rewarded with a Top 5 finish. Tonight at Bristol, another gamble has put them in Victory Lane.
With the caution flag flying at 75 laps to go in the Food City 500, Edwards was one of several drivers that opted to stay out on track while the leaders pitted. He inherited the point as a result and wouldn’t relinquish it again as he went on to become the fourth different winner in as many races this Sprint Cup season.
A multi-car incident involving Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray and Brad Keselowski with 50 laps to go bunched up the field for what was the final restart of the night with 39 laps left. Edwards and Aric Almirola led the field back to the green, but Edwards quickly pulled away and left Almirola to fight Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for second.
“Aric and those guys were really fast. I don’t know if I could’ve gotten by them [without the call],” Edwards said to Fox Sports after the race. “That was a gutsy call.”
But Edwards and the rest of the field would have to deal with one more strange twist in a race that had its start delayed by rain for two hours, endured a three-hour, 19-minute red flag for more rain, and saw several of its leaders (including Harvick) find various calamities.
With three laps left, the caution lights over the half-mile oval came on. But there was no immediate explanation for why.
Then, as confusion set in, a cloud burst occurred over the track and the rain fell once more. NASCAR apparently decided enough was enough, and Edwards rolled across the stripe first under the yellow and checkered flags.
Afterwards, the sanctioning body provided an explanation for the caution light episode.
But later in the night, NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton revealed the truth: One of the people in the flag stand over the start/finish line leaned on the switch that was the manual override for the light system.
“It appears that in, not all, but most of the flag stands have a manual override for the caution lights, and due to the weather and due to other things, there’s an area that it couldn’t have been — it wasn’t secured properly, and the flag person leaned against the switch and turned the caution lights on,” Pemberton said.
“We tried to turn them off, and we realized that the override switch was on and they were hung on caution. It was a stupid error.”
No matter for Ford, which enjoyed a banner night at Bristol with Edwards winning, his Roush Fenway Racing teammate Stenhouse finishing second, and Almirola finishing in third.
Stenhouse credited a car capable of running multiple lines – in particular, the bottom groove – for his stout performance.
“We focused on that a lot during practice because if you look back at these races, the cars that are up front every race here at Bristol are able to run the bottom when they need to,” he said in post-race.
In his own thoughts, Almirola indicated that his car’s issues in short runs played a part in him being unable to hang with Edwards in the final laps.
“Our car was really good on the long runs, but we were way too tight on the short runs,” he said to Fox. “It seemed like it kept getting better and better the longer it went…I was hoping it would stay green and maybe we would have had a shot to win, but I’m really happy with everybody on this team.”
Almirola’s teammate at Richard Petty Motorsports, Marcos Ambrose, also finished fifth behind Tony Stewart, who took his Chevy to a fourth-place result after needing a provisional to make the field on Friday.
Jul 1, 2015, 2:42 PM EDT
In a surprise move, the NHRA announced Wednesday that president Tom Compton has retired after 15 years as the sanctioning body’s chief executive officer
Jul 1, 2015, 1:54 PM EDT
The provisional winner of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is Rhys Millen.
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The CFH Racing co-owner says IndyCar will never grow if “we’re tearing it apart from the inside out.”
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Sauber names a new technical director.
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A selection of images from the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Jun 30, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
SH Rallycross’ HAUS livery for Red Bull GRC this weekend screams red, white and blue.
Jun 30, 2015, 10:52 AM EDT
Given how well they’ve run this year, it was really only a matter of time until Graham Rahal and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing won a race.
Jun 30, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT
Luca Filippi and Matthew Brabham set for oval tests this Wednesday at Iowa Speedway.
Jun 30, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT
This weekend’s miserable conditions at Watkins Glen offered a lot of young drivers a chance to shine.
Jun 29, 2015, 9:29 PM EDT
The 2015 season is the first time Roger Penske has captained four teams on the IndyCar circuit. And it appears it will be full steam ahead with four teams going forward.
Jun 29, 2015, 8:53 PM EDT
Comedian and former late-night talk show host Jay Leno has spent his career making millions laugh. But recently, the joke was on Leno, so to speak – but in a good way.
Jun 29, 2015, 8:24 PM EDT
If you’re a big fan of the Indianapolis 500 and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, put this on your bucket list for next year.
Jun 29, 2015, 7:18 PM EDT
With five races coming up in the next six weeks, Top Fuel driver Antron Brown knows how crucial this stretch of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season will be.
Jun 29, 2015, 5:47 PM EDT
Finishing 13th in her Dale Coyne Racing Honda, Pippa Mann enjoyed the best showing of her IndyCar career in Saturday’s MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway.
Jun 29, 2015, 3:37 PM EDT
Jack Hawksworth enjoyed one of his better runs of 2015 in Saturday’s MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway.
Jun 29, 2015, 2:20 PM EDT
Although it’s been two days since the MAV TV 500, a number of IndyCar drivers are not going to soon forget one of the wildest races the series has seen in a long time.
Jun 28, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT
Brazilian driver ends the Formula E season with his best finish of fourth.
Jun 28, 2015, 5:33 PM EDT
Westbrook and Valiante take their second win of the year at Watkins Glen.
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- Ed Carpenter: driver criticism of IndyCar ‘confusing for fans’ 3
- Hawksworth: “I wouldn’t say it was crazy; it was exciting” 2
- Graham Rahal’s Fontana win was long overdue, and a long time coming 0
- Report: Roger Penske intends to keep his ‘four aces’ in IndyCar 0
- Mario Andretti gets Jay Leno up to speed — and then some 1
- NHRA: Antron Brown looks to make Top Fuel fireworks this weekend 1