Carl Edwards wins Dover 200
DOVER, Del. – Carl Edwards led 122 laps and pulled away from fellow Nextel Cup driver Denny Hamlin during a rash of late-race cautions to win Saturday’s Dover 200 NASCAR Busch Series race at Dover International Speedway.
It was the third victory of the year for Edwards, the series points leader.
Hamlin, Scott Wimmer, Casey Mears and Matt Kenseth completed the top five in a race that was slowed by two red flags and 11 cautions for a total of 47 laps. Six of those cautions came during the final 40 laps.
Edwards was leading when the day’s sixth yellow flag flew for debris on Lap 161. But when Kenseth and rookie Marcos Ambrose chose not to pit, Edwards found himself restarting the race on Lap 165 in fifth place.
“There were times in the race (the car) was just so good,” Edwards said. “I thought, ‘Man, all we can do is screw this up.’ And then we had that final pit stop, and I thought, ‘There, we did. We screwed it up.’
“Just a small slip up, that’s how competitive the Busch Series is. Just a small slip, and we got back there (in traffic). Then I got real worried.”
After three more cautions, Edwards caught Kenseth and then found himself in a three-wide battle as Hamlin made his bid for the lead. Once around Kenseth, Edward's Roush Fenway Ford was clearly the fastest on the one-mile concrete track.
“Matt Kenseth did an unbelievable job in that car with no (fresh) tires,” Edwards said. “When my spotter said ‘three wide,’ I thought, ‘This might not turn out all right.’ But to win at Dover is a driver’s dream.
“Denny is real good on the restarts, and I was having trouble with mine. He could have really worked me over there. It was just a fun race.”
It was Edwards' 12th career victory in 85 starts in the Busch Series and his first win at Dover.
Hamlin, who started on the pole and led twice for 50 laps, said his Chevrolet was “really a second-place car to Carl after about Lap 50.
“They didn’t have anything at the (nearby) Air Force base that could run with him today,” Hamlin said. “We gave ourselves a shot there at the end, going three wide, but I just didn’t have the bite I needed. ... They really just outclassed us today.”
Of the three-wide move, Hamlin said he “needed the space (Jeff Burton) was occupying to make my move. I got in the loose stuff, too high, and that was my one opportunity.”
Edwards leads the point standings by 472 points over Kevin Harvick.
Carl Edwards – No. 60 Dish Network Ford Fusion – (qualified 8th, RACE WINNER) CARL, TELL US ABOUT YOUR RUN TODAY. “It was unbelievable. Pierre Kuettel and all the guys at the Dish Network Ford Fusion were fast. There were times in the race it was so good, I thought all we could do is screw this up. And then we had that final pit stop and I thought there we did – we screwed it up. Just a small slip up and that’s how competitive it is in the Busch series, we just had a real small slip up on pit road and we went back there, then it got really nerve racking. PK and I were both in the same boat thinking you can’t lose a race with a car that good; it would really make Jack Roush mad. It worked out; it was great. My hat is off to Matt Kenseth and as I said it out there, he’s unbelievable to be able to hold with 40 lap older tires and race us that hard. I mean I had him sideways at least twice and he just kept on digging. It was an awesome race to win.”
Pierre Kuettel – Crew Chief - No. 60 – TELL US ABOUT THE VIEW FROM THE BOX. “It was pretty scary on that last stop. Like Carl said, we had a little hiccup on the right rear there and came out to fourth, I think it was. I wasn’t really worried about it because how fast as those times were that we were looking at lap after lap, that he could get there. What worried me was that we’d have a bunch of cautions there at the end and we wouldn’t make those positions up. We needed some green flag laps and we’re glad they [NASCAR] red flagged it, because that was the right thing to do for the fans. And we were able to run green and make the thing go.”
Carl Edwards (continued) – After that pit stop, I heard you tell the crew that everything was going to be ok, but it didn’t sound like you were too confident. “I’ll tell you one thing that is great with this crew and my Office Depot crew is that we have a deal – we’re all in it together. Once the race starts, if the jackman jacks the car in the wrong pit stall behind us and totally misses our car or something, we’re not going to get down on each other; we’re in this together. So sometimes it’s really hard. I’m sure it’s hard on them when I run into stuff for them to say ‘Carl, you’re the man, don’t worry about it’ and it’s hard for me when they mess up a pit stop, but we really are all in this together. I’ve learned that that makes it a lot better and makes it easier to move on and to learn. Then people don’t feel like they’re left out there on an island when they make a mistake.”
PEOPLE WERE SAYING IN HERE EARLIER THAT THERE PROBABLY ISN’T ANYTHING AT THE DOVER AIR FORCE BASE THAT COULD CATCH YOU. DID YOU REALIZE FROM THE DROP OF THE GREEN THAT YOUR CAR WAS THAT GOOD OR DID IT TAKE YOU A WHILE TO FIGURE IT OUT? “I had a pretty good feeling because the car was so bad off balance wise the first run and we were still pretty fast. If we get this thing right, it’s gonna be a rocketship. And sure enough, they made the right adjustment and it was fast. I can guarantee if PK and I went to the USS Enterprise this week, flew out and land on an aircraft carrier, and they have lots of things in the military that are faster than this car, I can guarantee it. But this car was really good.”
Can you tell us about the bet that you have going on with your crew guy Tom? “Yea, Tom Jockey made a bet that he wouldn’t shave [his beard] until we won a NEXTEL Cup Series race and we’ve won a bunch of Busch races. That beard is getting kind of long. He’s ready to shave it off. We have a great car tomorrow and the last two races we had a car that was capable of winning, so hopefully Tom will shave tomorrow.”
You’ve been able to win on the Busch Series, why do you think that haven’t you been able to win on the Cup side? “There are a number of reasons. The NEXTEL Cup Series is arguably; I think, it is the most competitive racing series in the world. And at the end of 2005, we were upset if we didn’t sit on the pole and lead every lap in the race. In the Chase, we were awesome. Then I feel that we just got a little behind. I think that we got behind a little bit on engineering and understanding parts of the car and processes and stuff that were making other teams go fast, but the good news on that is that we understand where we were behind and we are working on it. At Darlington, we had a car that could win. At the Coke 600, we had a car that could win and we’ve got a car that can win tomorrow. And if you keep having cars that will win; you’ll win races. The reason we haven’t won, it’s just a little bit of luck and other teams kind of getting ahead of us a bit and we’re on the uphill side of that. We’re getting better.”
Have you had a car this good anywhere? “The National Car was pretty good, but I think this one was better. I was thinking about that out there. I was thinking, relative to the field, that this is probably the best car I ever had. Trying to think of a better one – that’s about as good as it gets. I don’t think I’ve had a better one. I’ve had some that were pretty good, but this one was awesome.”
Are you less likely to try changes when you’ve got a car like this? “Yea, it’s tough because all of us, everybody out there, is used to making changes every time we come in. We’re sitting out there going to pit, get four tires and fuel and PK says ‘no changes’ so, I guess no changes. It makes you real hesitant to make changes unless someone out there gets faster than you. That thing was just so good.”
Pierre Kuettel – (continued) ON that last pit stop, Carl said that you didn’t want a round wedge, that he just wanted a bump. Do you know that is? And how much is that, actually? “Yes, a very little bit. The great thing working with Carl the last couple of years is that there is a certain amount of terminology that goes on and we begin to read each other. A bump is basically where we stick a wrench right in there and pull it out. I don’t think it was very much; we bumped it and I think we gave him what he needed. I think we were just a tick tight and the end, maybe could have used a bump and a half, maybe two bumps, but it was all right.”