Roush Fenway Racing’s Carl Edwards used a combination of speed and pit strategy to score a fourth-place finish in Sunday night’s Coca-Coca 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS). A savvy call for a splash of fuel on lap 285, allowed Edwards to stay on track longer than the field on the ensuing run; gaining valuable track position and placing the No. 99 in strong contention for the win. Unfortunately, a late caution cost the team the opportunity to stay in the lead, but Edwards was able to parley the strategy into a strong top-five finish in NASCAR’s longest race of the year.
“That’s Ford fuel mileage right here,” said Edwards. “You talk about Fords getting great fuel mileage and they did today. Our car finished fourth and that was probably as good as we deserved to finish, but Jimmy made that call and I thought we were gonna win it. That would have been great for right here on the hood where it says Fastenal, that’s 630 Fastenal members who also serve our Armed Forces, so I would have loved to have won for those guys, but we did have a good run. Yeah, I thought we had it if we didn’t get the caution then. It was fun. We didn’t have a way to really win it on pure speed, but to have a shot based on that strategy was really good. We’re moving forward, but we wanted to get a win for these guys and we want to win on these mile-and-a-halves because the Chase is filled with those race tracks. We’ve got to keep working. Everybody is working as hard as they can and hopefully we can get some wins.”
Edwards headed to CMS for the Memorial Day Weekend showdown looking for his first win at the 1.5-mile track. After starting from the 22nd-spot he fell a lap down early on. The team never gave up, battling back all day and with some help on pit road, cracked the top-ten after a caution came out on lap 163.
After a waive around on a lap 107 caution placed the No. 99 Fusion back on the lead lap, Edwards worked his way up the field, into the 14th-position by the time the next yellow was waved at lap 148. Edwards would crack the top-ten after a solid pit stop on lap 164 gained him two spots.
During the second half of the race, crew chief Jimmy Fennig opted to take only a splash of fuel on a lap 285 caution and then stayed out as long as possible under green before coming in at lap 344, knowing that the No.99 Fastenal Ford Fusion could now make it to the end. When the leaders once again had to come in, Edwards was able to stay out and took over the top spot with 25 to go. After leading four laps, another yellow came out, forcing Edwards to visit pit road one more time, after which he would end the day in the fourth-position.