After a strong qualifying effort and securing the third spot in the starting lineup of Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway, Carl Edwards and the No. 99 team fought a “wrecking-loose” condition the majority of the race and when it was all over were scored two laps down in 23rdwhen the checkers flew at the end of the 200-lap race on the two-mile oval.
“We were so loose I just couldn’t drive it. It looked like Greg (Biffle) had a good run and we had speed in qualifying so that gives us something to look forward to but we were just too loose today to be able to do anything,” stated Edwards.
The first caution flag flew on lap three when the No. 18 car hit the wall and the team opted to stay out. Green flag racing resumed on lap seven and three laps later Edwards reported his Ford was too loose; a condition that got progressively worse and by lap 20 when the competition caution flag flew Edwards had dropped to 16th. He pitted and the Ecoboost team dropped the trackbar four rounds, changed two right side tires taking air out of the right rear and added fuel. When the field went racing again on lap 23, Edwards had moved up to 14th. The very next lap the caution flew again for a seven car wreck and Edwards stayed out.
On lap 30 the green flag waved again and by lap 32 Edwards advised his crew that he was still real loose in turn three, but better elsewhere on the track. When the fourth caution flag came out on lap 36 for debris crew chief Jimmy Fennig called for a pitstop to change all four tires, make a wedge adjustment and add fuel while everyone else stayed out. When the race went green again on lap 39 Edwards had exited the pits in 24th. On lap 46 he advised the car was still way too loose. Edwards green flag pitted on lap 72 for more wedge and after the field cycled through he was in 22nd and a lap down.
Edwards advised his crew that his car was getting worse on lap 90 and he had dropped another two spots to 24th. The fifth yellow flag waved on lap 97 when the No. 42 car hit the wall and burst into flames. Strategy called for Edwards to stay out and take the wave around to get back on the lead lap. When the green flag flew on lap 109 Edwards was scored in 21st. On lap 117 Edwards green flag pitted again from the 20th spot for adjustments to tighten up his Ford. Unfortunately, two left rear lug nuts were not completely tightened and Edwards had to come back in causing him to go another lap down.
Edwards reported that the car was better on lap 131 and when the field cycled through he was one lap down in 26th. On lap 159 the leader in the No. 24 car passed Edwards causing him to go another lap down. The next lap Edwards brought his Ford in for a green flag stop to get fuel and four tires. NASCAR penalized the No. 99 team for going over the wall too soon, issuing a pass through which put them three laps down. Fennig consulted with the officials and after further review NASCAR declared the team didn’t go too soon and gave a lap back to the team.
Three more caution flags flew before the race ended and Edwards and the Ford Ecoboost team dug hard through a tough day and managed to finish only two laps down in 23rd.